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OUR PARTNERSHIP 




OUR PARTNERSHIP 
BY BEATRICE WEBB 


EDITED BY 

BARBARA DRAKE 
MARGARET L COLE 


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f 


mm Elates 


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LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO 


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NUMBER 12438 



PREFACE 


We have been asked by Sidney Webb to prepare for publica- 
tion this first volume of Our Partnership by the late Beatrice 
Webb, and to write a short preface. 

The book, which is a sequel to My Apprenticeships first 
published in 1,926, relates to the earlier years of her marriage, 
1892-1911, and was originally intended by her, hack she 
lived, as a first instalment of other volumes to follow, but 
this was not to be. The plan of the book, like that of My 
Apprenticeships was to interweave extracts from her contem- 
porary diaries with the narrative of events. The work was 
actually begun in 1926, immediately after the publication of 
the earlier volume, but was soon interrupted owing to the 
pressure of research and to the political activities connected 
with the second Labour Government. It was resumed in 
1931, only to be interrupted again by the Webbs’ visit to 
Russia, the work on Soviet Communisms and by periods of 
ill-health. The main lines and arrangement of the book- 
were settled at the beginning and maintained; additions and 
alterations were made at intervals almost up to her death in 
April 1943, but the text was never finally revised. 

We have ventured to omit from the book a chapter on 
“ Round the English-speaking World ” (1898), While the 
chapter contains much interesting matter, it has little or no 
bearing on the main concerns of the present volume. We 
have also omitted some passages from the diaries on tech- 
nical subjects, which were either of great length or had 
appeared in substance in earlier publications; again, a few 
phrases are left out which we felt that Beatrice herself would 
have withdrawn as they might have given offence to persons 
now still living. Otherwise, ajtid apa'rt from minor verbal 
corrections and the addition* of some explanatory footnotes, 
the text remains exactly as she left it. 

My Apprenticeships in its first edition, included a nnmbpr 



PREFACE 


of footnotes (jn the principal characters which appeared, in 
it, and a few such notes had already been added by Beatrice 
to Our Partnership. We have appended instead, for the con- 
venience of the student, a biographical index of the persons 
mentioned in so far as they are concerned with the matter 
of the book. ■ 

For the rest, we leave Beatrice herself to write her own 
introduction. The full book as planned by her, and of which 
My Apprenticeship and this volume are only the two first 
instalments, was originally to be called My £reed and My 
Crajt., but in her desire to describe truthfully her lifelong 
pursuit of a living philosophy, her changes of outlook and 
ideas, her growing distrust of benevolent philanthropy as a 
means of redeeming “ poor suffering humanity ”, and her 
leaving of the field of abstract economic theory for the then 
practically unexplored paths of scientific social research, she 
felt it necessary to reveal something of her own experiences 
and personality, of the restless and lonely phase of My 
Apprenticeship., of the loving companionship and deep peace 
of Our Partnership, The book became, in fact, an auto- 
biography. 

“I mean”, she writes in her diary (May 1922), “to 
finish this book before taking up my other work, and I mean 
to write it according to my conscience, not shamefacedly in 
fear of scoffing remarks. The difficulty is to tell the truth 
without being self-conscious about it. I have been reading 
through my diaries and dictating extracts so as to base my 
autobiographical element on it, not on memories but on 
contemporary evidence exactly as if it were about somebody 
else. It is amazing how one forgets what«one thought and felt 
in the past, and even what one did and with whom one was 
intimate. Reading of all our intrigues over the Education 
Bill (1902) was a shock to me, not so much the intrigues 
themselves as our evident pleasure in them! How far is 
intrigue permissible.? *’ » 

She writes again (February' 1923): “ There is a certain 
morbidity in writing this book — ^it is practically an auto- 
biography with the love affairs left out — the constantly recur- 



PREFACE 

ring decision of what degree of self-revelation is permissible 
and desirable. The ideal conduct would be to treat the 
diaries exactly as I should treat them if they were someone 
else’s — of course a contemporary person with the same 
objective requirements about other people’s feelings. But it 
is almost impossible to get into that frame of mind — one’s 
self-esteem is too deeply concerned — also Sidney’s feelings 
have to be considered. On the other hand, many personal 
traits and experiences may seem significant to the author 
which are reajly uninteresting — mere flashes of personal 
vanity.” ^ 

Later, in 1926, when shd'had begun to prepare the present 
volume, she records her difficulty in expressing her philo- 
sophy of life, her belief in the scientific method, but its 
purpose guided always by religious emotion. “ I am per- 
petually brooding”, she writes (April 1926), “over my 
inability to make clear even to myself, let alone to others, 
why I believe in religious mysticism, why I hanker after 
a Church — with its communion of the faithful, with its 
religious rites, and its religious discipline, and above all 
with its definite code of conduct.” She rejects “ scientific 
materialism ” as a rival metaphysic or as a guide to human 
conduct. “ The trend of scientific thought is to discourage 
the mind of man from searching for absolute truth with 
regard to the meaning of life, and to regard metaphysics as' 
an aid to living rather than as an extension of objective 
knowledge. . . . Then there is the complaint that what 
seems right to-day seems wrong to-morrow and that the 
great religions of the world have differed in their moral 
codes. This uncertainty in the verdict is equally true of 
science; what seems proved to-day is disproved and re- 
jected to-moiTow. Indeed, the ideal of infallibility is and 
can never be realised by faculties that are evolving; each 
stage and conclusion will be a jumping-off place for a new 
departure. Why should not otw discePnment of what ought 
to be become clearer and broa*der exactly as our own discern- 
ment of what is true becomes more extensive and complete 
and more completely verified? What we have to ron-sirlei- 



PREFACE 


is not the occasional lapses in the development of morality 
through religion, but whether history shows any constant 
relation between the presence of religious mysticism and the 
progressive development of what we consider right living.” 

The appeal made to her later by Soviet Communism may 
be traced, at least partly, to the passionate, almost religious, 
faith of its founders in the “ brotherhood of man ” — “ from 
each according to his faculty, to each according to his need ” 
— and their deliberate use of science as a means of achieving 
this end. Its political intolerance and fanatigism during its 
bitter struggle against enemies, both at home and abroad, 
she was wont to compare with the religious intolerance 
and savage persecutions of earlier, centuries. “ When it is 
objected ”, she writes again (April 1926), “ that, as a matter 
of fact, religious mysticism has itself led to meanness and 
cruelty, I answer, this is only another way of saying that all 
human faculties are imperfect and that the religious faculty, 
like the faculty of observation and reason, is subject to 
degeneration and even to death by disease.” A question that 
then perpetually vexed her was; “ Can we have the moral 
results of a religious faith without religious rites and religious 
discipline, without a communion of the faithful pledged to 
practise these rites and to carry out a definite moral code, 
i.e. without a Church.? I doubt it. And the longer I live the 
'more doubt tends to become a settled conviction. Somehow 
or other we must have the habit of prayer, the opportunity 
for the confession of sin and for the worship of goodness if 
we are to attain personal holiness. Otherwise we suffer from 
a chronic devitalisation of the religious faculty. But how can 
we get a Church without a dogma ' — a dogma which will 
offend intellectual integrity and moral sincerity.? No such 
Church seems within sight. Like so many other poor souls 
I have the consciousness of being a spiritual outcast. ... I 
have failed to solve the problem of life- — of man’s relation to 
the universe and, therefore, -to his fellow-men. But I have a 
growing faith that it will be soNed by a combination of truth- 
seeking and personal holiness — of the scientific mind with 
the religious life. When will such a leader arise who will 



PREFACE 


unite the intellect of an Aristotle, a Goethe or an Einstein, 
with the moral genius of a Buddha, a Christ or a St. Francis 
of Assisi.? ” 

Beatrice continued to write her diaries — awake in the 
early morning hours — to within a few days of her death in 
her eighty-sixth year. She knew that her strength was rapidly 
failing and the end was near; but, even after the tragedy of 
the second World War, she never lost her faith in the power 
of man to follow the light within him and, by the use of 
science, to create a social, economic and international order 
which would bring out what was best in him — -the spirit 
of co-operation and service — and so overcome the great 
stumbling-blocks of fear and greed. She herself was ready 
to go — sad only at the parting from her beloved — and to pass 
on her task to others. The Partnership has already left its 
mark on the social legislation of to-day, and the revolutionary 
ideas of the early campaigns are now the commonplaces of 
all political parties. 

We are indebted to the Cambridge University Press for 
permission to use extracts from a Report of the Pilgrim Trust 
on Men Without Work\ to Messrs. Cassell & Company, Ltd., 
and the Yale University Press for an extract from Politics 
from Inside by Sir Austen Chamberlain ; to Messrs. Constable 
& Company, Ltd., .for “ Lord Rosebery’s Escape from 
Houndsditch ” from The Nineteenth Century and After^ Sep- * 
tember 1901, and for an extract from The Apologia of an 
Imperialist by W. A. S. Hewins; to Messrs. J. M. Dent & 
Sons, Ltd., and E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc., New York, 
for extracts from Pillars of Society by A. G. Gardiner; to 
Sir William S. Haldane and Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton, 
Ltd., for lengthy extracts from An Autobiography by R. B. 
Haldane; to Mr. Alexander MacLehose for extracts from 
From One Century to Another by Elizabeth Haldane; to 
Messrs. Macmillan & Company, Ltd., for an extract from 
History of the London County Council by Gibbon and Bell, and 
for an extract from Life ojfjo'sepk Chamberlain (Vol. Ill) by 
J. L. Garvin ; to the Manchester Guardian for two reports 
from the Manchester Guardian ; to the News Chronicle for an 



prSface 


extract by H. W. Massingham from the Daily Chronicle \ to 
the Students’ Union of the London School of Econorhics 
and Political Science for an extract from the Handbook' oj the 
Students' Union by Professor Graham Wallas; and to the 
Times for an extract from the report of the Conference of the 
National Union of Women Workers, October 29, 1897. 

For assistance in compiling the Biographical Index our 
thanks are due also to the following: Lord Beveridge, 
George M. Booth, Ivor Brown, Miss Mildred Bulkeley, Sir 
Arthur Cochrane, Professor G. D. H. Cole, Dr, Alfred Cox, 
Dri> Hugh Dalton, F. W. Galton, Philip B. Dingle, Town 
Clerk of Manchester, G. E. Hay«es of the N.C.S.S., Stephen 
Hobhouse, P. F. Jupe of the Establishment Board of H.M. 
Treasury, Commissioner David Lamb and Colonel Carvosso 
Gauntlett of the Salvation Army, Mrs. C. M. Lloyd, 
L. M'Evoy, Town Clerk of Leicester, Dr. J. J. Mallon, 
John Moss of the Kent County Council, Dr. Stark Murray, 
Edward R, Pease, Dr. Karin Stephen, Herbert Tracey of 
the Trades Union Congress, and Miss May Wallas. 

B. D. 

M. I. C. 

London 
September 1947 



CONTENTS 


INTRODUCTION 

The Other One 


CHAPTER I 

Studies in British Trade Unionism [1892-1898] 

Qualifications for research. Trade Union Enquiry. Trades Union 
Congresses. Marriage. Fabian Junta. Royal Commission on 
Labour. Constitution of T.U.C. Theory of trade unionism. 


CHAPTER II 

Municipal and University Administration [1892- 
1898] 

London County Council, The London Programme. L.C.C. elec- 
tions. Techniciil Education Board. London School of Eco- 
nomics. Reconstruction of London University. 


CHAPTER III 

Social and Political Environment [1892—1898] 

F abian Manifesto. Political situation. Family and social surround- 
ings. Education Bill (iSgy). National Union of Women 
Workers. 


CHAPTER IV 

Enquiry into English Local Qoverniwent fiSgg- 

1905] 

The Housekeeping State. History of social services. Visits to 
local authorities and research into local administration. 
Analysis of material. 


12-56 


57-102 


103-46 


147-80 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER V 

Thb Unification of London Education [1899- 181-251 

1902] 

A Faculty of Economic and Political Science. South African 
War. Liberal and Labour Party splits. Fabianism and the 
Empire. Bishop of London and the Church. The New 
Liberalism. London University Act. 


CHAPTER VI 

The London Education Act and After [1903- 

1905] 252-315 

Education Authority for London. London Education Bill cam- 
paign. Religious instruction in schools. L.C.C. administra- 
tion. London “ Society ”. 

CHAPTER VII 

Royal Commission on the Poor Law and the Relief 

OF Distress [1905-1909] 316-421 

The Old Poor Law. Constitution of the Commission. Liberal 
Government (1905). Working of Commission. Webb en- 
quiries and scheme of reform. Conflicts of policy. Women’s 
suffrage. Visits to Scotland and Ireland. Majority and 
Minority Reports. 

CHAPTER VIII 

The Plunge into Propaganda [1909-1911] 422-91 

Press reception of Poor Law Reports. Ereak-Up of the Poor Law 
campaign. National Society for the Prevention of Destitu- 
tion. Counter-campaign. Liberal reaction. National In- 
surance Acts. Success or failure? A New Civilisation. 


Biographical Index (Margaret I. Cole) 494-529 


Index 


530-44 



PLATES 


frontispiece 

Early Days of the Partnership 

{photograph by Hollyer) 


facirtg page 30 

Sidney Webb {atat circa 32) 

{photograph by Hollyer") 


facing page 34 

Beatrice Webb {cetat 33) 


facing page 422 

Days of the Poor Law Campaign 




AN INTRODUCTION 

THE OTHER ONE 

In the summer of 1926, a few weeks after the publication of 
My Apprenticeships thinking that I might continue the story 
of my life, I set down my impression of the Other One; the 
circumstance of his upbringing, his personality as it appeared 
to me, and the character of his influence on his contSm- 
poraries. Other tasks intervened and it was not until 1931 
that I started to write the first chapter of this book. To-day, 
after another lapse of time, bringing with it advanced old 
age, I insert without correction the informal sketch of 1926 
as an introduction to Our Partnership. 

Sidney Webb was born of parents neither rich nor poor, 
neither professional brain -workers nor manual workers, 
neither captains of industry nor hired hands. His people 
belonged to the part of England (Kent and Essex), and to 
the social class that had escaped out of the feudalism of the 
countryside, without being transformed by the industrial 
revolution. The social environment of his parents and grand- 
parents was, in fact, typical of the industrial development of 
the first half of the nineteenth century ; a somewhat stagnant 
population of traders and fisher-folk, of master craftsmen 
and little cultivators — -all alike living outside the ancient 
chartered towns. His paternal grandfather, who brought 
up a large family and accumulated a foi'tune of something 
like ten thousand poflnds, for fifty years kept the village inn 
that served a Kentish hamlet; a vigorous old Radical. His 
mother’s family were little property-owners in Essex and 
Suffolk, cultivating land or sailing wooden ships between the 
ports of the East Coast, and occasionally venturing across 
the North Sea and the Channel*, sometimes blossoming out 
into yeomen stockbreeders or owners of fishing smacks and 
trading vessels. So far as I have been able to ascertain, there 
was only one person within the family connection who was, 



AN INTRODUCTION 

in any way, distinguished — a first cousin — Fred Webb, -the 
famous jockey who won the Derby, afterwards becoming a 
well-known trainer. Among uncles, aunts and cousins, there 
were apparently no members of the older and more dignified 
professions; no beneficed clergyman, no physician or 
surgeon, rio solicitor or barrister, no naval or army officer. 
The families concerned belonged almost exclusively to the 
lower middle-class ; some rose temporarily to be small land- 
owners and “ rentiers ”, others fell into dependence and 
poverty; but none became directors of great undertakings, 
whether of profit-making enterprise or in public administra- 
tion. 

The father and mother of Charles, Sidney and Ada Webb 
were thus what the worldly call “ little folk ”, without social 
influence, but with a certain amount of backing from better- 
off relations. The mother had been left an orphan at a tender 
age, to be brought up by one or other of her aunts. In 1 848, 
a brother-in-law advanced her a few hundred pounds to 
open a retail shop in a street of shops , in central London 
which became, after her marriage in 1854, the home of the 
little family and the principal source of the family income. 
Meanwhile, the father, who had gained sufficient education 
to become a public accountant in a humble way, looked 
^ after the neighbouring shopkeepers’ ledgers and settled the 
affairs of little companies and societies which had got into 
trouble, thereby earning a small and irregular income. He 
gave the greater half of his time gratuitously to serve on the 
local vestry and the board of guardians, or to acting as 
trustee or executor for humble folk. I doubt whether the 
family income ever reached £,$00 a* year, and I doubt 
whether the family expenditure ever went below £300, in 
an era of cheapness. 

But the most important part of a child’s environment is 
the character o:^its parents. The Webb parents were both of 
them beyond reproac’K; the;f were, in fact, the last word in 
respectability. The father, who died a few months before I 
became engaged to Sidney, was, from all accounts, singu- 
larly refined in character—- modest and unassuming, i*emark- 



HIS SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT 
ably public-spirited, always ready to do unpaid, work either 
for public bodies or friends who were in trouble. He was 
a diligent reader of newspapers and political pamphlets. But 
throughout life he suffered frail health and was managed by 
his far abler and more energetic wife. For Sidney’s mother 
was a woman of character and capacity; a clever shopkeeper 
and excellent housekeeper, giving her children good fare, 
open windows and cold baths, and training them in good 
habits. Graham Wallas, who knew her before her break- 
down in health, described her as “ wise and witty, with a 
remarkable memory ”. It was she who, after consulting i^ith 
a friendly customer, sent the two boys, at a considerable 
sacrifice of income, first to a Swiss school to learn French and 
then into the family of a German pastor at Wismar to learn 
German — an accomplishment which indirectly led to Sidney 
getting into the first division of the Civil Service, and to 
his brother becoming the foreign correspondence clerk 
in Marshall & Snelgrove and other firms, and eventually 
graduating into a successful profit-making venture of his 
own. The intellectual atmosphere of the home was made" up 
of the Radical politics of the father — he was, for instance, an 
ardent supporter of John Stuart Mill’s candidature at West- 
minster in 1865 — and the broad evangelical religious feeling 
of the mother, who took the children to one church or chapel ^ 
after another in search of an eloquent preacher free from 
sacerdotalism. It remains to be added that the family “ kept 
itself to itself ” and had few relatives in London, and practi- 
cally no friends. The Webb family was not socially attractive : 
there was no margin of income for entertaining; the home, 
though comfortable, ‘was cramped and ugly; its inhabitants, 
if not ugly, were homely and plain in appearance and 
manners; the sister attractively plain, the brother just 
commonplace. Though I never saw the father, and only 
saw the mother when she was aged and crippled, it was clear 
that neither one nor the ot|ie!' had a fine appearance or 
peculiar charm — except the charm of essential goodness, of 
honesty, personal kindliness and public spirit. But the out- 
standing characteristic of this family circle was the absence 



AN INTRODUCTION 

of the “ wi]J-to-power ”, or the desire to be conspiciious. 
Even Charles, who had not inherited the public spirit and 
intellectual interests of his father, who was just a clever and 
honest tradesman and a good family man, never wanted to 
make more money than was necessary to give him a small 
but comfortable home, a little rough shooting and a few 
weeks’ annual tour on the Continent. When he had secured 
^1500 or ;^2000 a year, he retired from active business. As 
for exercising authority over other people, he quite obviously 
disliked it; neither had he been tempted by social ambition. 
This absence of any desire to climb up the social ladder, or 
to enjoy luxury, as distinguished from comfort, was to me 
the most attractive feature of the family life of the Webbs. 
They neither admired nor objected to social superiors — they 
ignored them. A life of distraction and luxurious leisure, of 
conspicuous expenditure, would have merely worried and 
bored them past endurance. Thus Sidney’s environment did 
not encourage class bitterness, nor lead to the conception of 
class war; there was certainly no consciousness of family 
failure; and, as it happened, there was, so far as he and his 
brother were concerned, from their early youth upwards, a 
growing consciousness of personal success. The material and 
mental environment of the Webb family was neutral in its 
. politics and economics, a neutrality shown by the subsequent 
opinions of the two brothers and sister. Charles became and 
remained a City Tory, Sidney became a Socialist and Ada a 
mugwump— predominantly progressive but not “ Labour ”. 

So much for family circumstances. Edward Pease, who 
knew Sidney’s parents and his brother and sister, more than 
once observed that Sidney was one of the few men whom he 
had known, whose remarkable brain power could not be 
explained by the brains of his parents or forebears: his far- 
reaching and always working intellect must have been a 
physiological freak. Superficially, he resembled his family. 
“ Undistinguished and uninipressive in appearance ” would 
be the verdict of a qualified reporter. In an English crowd 
he would pass unnoticed unless someone asked whether he 
was a foreigner, “ At an International Congress ”, wrote an 



HIS CHARACTERISTICS 

American journalist, “ Sidney Webb might be fpund among 
the intellectuals of any nation’s delegation.” On the Con- 
tinent, he is usually assumed to be French. At the Hamburg 
International Socialist Congress in 1923, for instance, he 
was followed and abused as such ; and a hotel porter rudely 
refused to believe he was English until he showed his 
passport as a British M.P., when effusive apologies were 
tendered. 

Regarded as a public personage, Sidney W ebb has always 
been the delight of caricaturists. With his big head, bulgy 
eyes, bushy moustaches and square-cut short beard (it is fliis 
latter feature which gained*him the name of “ Nannie ” in 
the House of Commons), small but rotund body, tapering 
arms and legs and diminutive hands and feet, he lends him- 
self to the cubist treatment of the ridiculous. These ill-looks, 
however, are not represented in photographs ; for the photo- 
grapher always selects the profile or half-face. Taken in 
profile, with the disproportion between head and legs cor- 
rected by the falsified photographic perspective, he is not 
only remarkable but attractive in appearance. The massive 
head, covered with thick wavy hair (originally black, now 
streaked with white), the broad finely-moulded forehead, ^ 
large kindly grey eyes, imposing Roman nose together with 
the afore-mentioned bushy imperial, wpuld look well on a^ 
coinl Assuredly this head-piece indicates brain power — a 
fine intellect tempered by visionary idealism and lit up with 
benevolence. 

As a speaker he is not prepossessing. He has a husky 
voice, made less articulate by a rapid delivery; at times, in 
his haste, he omits 5 , syllable or clips his words. When he 
hesitates, either in talk or in public speaking, there are ugly 
intervening “ ers ” and “ urns His diction, though fluent 
and coherent, lacks style; he has none of the graces or tricks 
of the orator ; when addressing a popular audience he is apt 
to be prosy and monotonous, '®ut he has his own kind of 
effectiveness. In argument he is ingenious and often con- 
vincing; he is always informative and logical. In short, he 
is a first-rate class lecturer; he raises rapidly, and in their 



AN INTRODUCTION 


right order> all the relevant issues, and either settles them 
there and then, or gives his students some notion how to do 
so ; he insinuates wise thoughts and suggests subtle qualifica- 
tions ; with advanced students he is often witty. At question 
time he is overwhelming; no heckler has ever got the better 
of him! Whilst honest enquirers get what they want. And, 
if he says he does not know, he tells them where to go for 
the best information. 

But it is as a committee man that Sidney Webb excels. 
He is always on the spot; he thinks twice as fast as his 
colleagues ; he so foresees the drift of the discussion that he 
can lie in wait, and open or block the way according to his 
aims. He is the ideal draftsman; able to express the desired 
conclusion in a dozen different phrases so as to disarm 
suspicion or prejudice and to suit diverse temperaments. 
He can accept, or even suggest, amendments which satisfy 
troublesome opponents without achieving their hostile ends. 

Have I made it clear that, admirable as a social engineer, 
Sidney Webb has not the make-up of a popular leader.^ He 
lacks personal magnetism; he has no liking for personal 
prominence; he is, in fact, not a public personage at all, he 
is a private citizen with public aims and expert knowledge. 
Hence, the continuous depreciation of him by journalists 
like H. W. Massingham, who specialised in the melodrama 
of public affairs, and amused themselves and their readers by 
setting up idol after idol for the people to worship. For 
Sidney Webb did not lend himself to this game; he has 
always been a “ behind the scenes ” man, and even on com- 
mittees he has succeeded best with fellow-researchers and 
fellow-administrators, in fact, with his intellectual equals. 
For it must be admitted he has not always been able to suffer 
fools gladly ; hc: has had neither the patience nor the itch 
for power, needful for manipulating coarse characters and 
common minds^^by deception and flattery. Twill not say he 
has courted unpopularity — ^he has been too unselfconscious 
for that — moreover, he would Ixave thought it silly. If he has 
courted any state of being, it has been anonymity and incon- 
spicuousness. But he has always had the courage of his 



“son Eminence grise” 

opinions; and time after time he has “ used hiir^self up ” for 
a cause in which he believed. 

Of course, he has changed in manner and method after 
middle-life. When he was young and enthusiastically con- 
vinced that mass poverty could be abolished and the eco- 
nomic circumstances of the world transfigured by collective 
control and collective administration, his keenness took the 
form of persistent permeation; of endless intrigues to per- 
suade those in authority to go his way. By friends and 
enemies alike,* he was acclaimed an accomplished wire- 
puller. Perhaps the cleverest caricature — about 1900 — tvas 
a picture of Balfour and Asquith bobbing up and down at 
the end of wires handled by the “ wily Fabian But, in 
later years, he has become too philosophical, too much the 
researcher and, therefore, the doubter, to persist in getting 
his own way — even behind the scenes. After sixty he gladly 
took a back seat in all affairs, and on all the occasions when 
his colleagues were in the limelight, he was busying himself 
about matters which, though important, the other leaders felt 
irksome and were inclined to leave undone. Hence, his 
apparent failure in the House of Commons relatively to his 
reputation on entering it as the Intellect of the Labour Party 
— a reputation which served him ill, seeing that it roused 
the vulgar insolence of the baser type of Tory. Hence, also, 
the odd ups and downs in the esteem of well-known con-” 
temporaries. “ Son Eminence Grise ” was Camille Huys- 
mans’ nickname when that clever Belgian statesman was 
resident in London during the last two years of the Great 
War, observing the reconstruction of the Labour Party by 
Henderson and Sidftey. “ I never can see what people see 
in him,” remarked John Motley to a friend — ^who forthwith 
reported it! “ The worst of Webb ”, wrote G. D. H. Cole in 
a character sketch, “ is that he permanent \ when you think 
you have disposed of him he confronts you in another part 
of the field.” There were timCs when “ the Webb myth ” 
took the form of a sinister and hidden presence, manipulat- 
ing the activities of Church and State, of the Tory and 
Liberal press, of the Trade Union and Co-operative Move- 



AN INTRODUCTION 


ments in th,e direction of fanatically held ideals. At other 
times he has been dismissed as a “ back number ”, a? “ an 
exploded myth ”, as “ a bourgeois pedant ”, hopelessly out 
of touch with the virile democracy. As a matter of fact, 
the “ all-powerful ” and the “ insignificant ” verdicts were 
equally beside the mark; his influence has been limited but 
steady; it has varied little from time to time; and it has never 
taken the form of personal power; he has insinuated thoughts 
which fructified, he has never actively dominated other 
people’s activities; he has never been (except* to his wife!) a 
ma% of destiny. What he has achieved, either in organisation 
or in thought, has been slow But continuous constructive 
work, carrying out elastic but definite and consistent plans 
of social reconstruction. Public spirit, personal disinterested- 
ness, tenacity of purpose, accurate knowledge and sound 
reasoning, have been the faculties whereby he has attained 
such success as he has had in bringing about, by propa- 
ganda, in legislation, or through administration, the social 
reorganisation in which he has believed. Fullness of know- 
ledge, sense of proportionate value of facts and issues, lucidity 
in expression and a tireless industry, have been his peculiar 
contribution to our joint work. 

So far I have described the Other One as a public servant 
— for a public serva;it he has been in the fullest meaning of 
the term. In his intimate relations, he is singularly free from 
faults and he has certain delightful gifts. He has always been 
healthy in body and mind, he has had no day-dreams, his 
very sleep is dreamless. He has had no vindictiveness and 
he has never been obsessed by particular persons or events. 
To use topical jargon, he never sufFet-ed from “ suppres- 
sions ” or “complexes ”; he never felt himself to be either 
inferior or superior to other people; in his own eyes he is 
just one among equals. He has never claimed to be in the 
front rank; he does not push his way into the corner seat 
of a railway carriage-^as I fnvariably do! — he watches the 
others seat themselves, and takes the place that is left. Like- 
wise he is no respecter of persons, except in so far as one man 
may need more help or be better able to serve a common 



HIS PERSONALITY 


cause than another. Such personal sensitiveness as he has 
— and I think he is largely unconscious of the effect of his 
own personality — takes the form of withdrawing from the 
contest, retiring into the background to go on with his own 
researches complacently. In his outlook on men and affairs 
he is impersonal — an amused and amusing observer, giving 
the benefit of the doubt to erring mortals, generous in 
appreciation of moral and intellectual gifts, but not a hero- 
worshipper. Indeed, he dislikes reputed heroes and heroines, 
and he laughs at Bernard Shaw’s “ Superman He is on 
friendly terms with many people; they trust him and he 
trusts them; but he is too’absorbed in disentangling ques- 
tions and promoting causes to have intimate friendships. 
This absence of friendships in his life has, I think, been a 
loss to him. Perhaps Bernard Shaw and, some way down the 
scale of frank intimacy — Haldane — but I can think of no 
other but these two who have been lifelong friends as well 
as colleagues. He is apt to be bored by women; especially 
by sentimental or “ temperamental ” women and by pro- 
fessional beauties; they don’t interest him and he resents 
their claims to admiration and attention. When I placed the 
handsome but metallic Lady Desborough beside him at a ’ 
luncheon at our house, he remarked afterwards that he 
thought her “ unpleasing with her artificial and insincere^ 
talk and silly trick of shutting her eyes at you ”. His absence 
of mind with another charming lady was signalised by her 
ejaculation, as she noticed him listening to the conversation 
at the other end of the table, “ And what is she saying now, 
Mr. Webb ? ” How he detested Mrs. Pat Campbell when 
she was brought to kee us by Lady Elcho! G. B. S.’s subse- 
quent infatuation he regarded as a clear case of sexual 
senility! Sophie Bryant, the hard-headed and accomplished 
principal of the North London Collegiate School, who sat 
with him on the Technical Education Bqard and on the 
Senate of London University, ik the only woman I remember 
to have interested him, and the generous and noble-minded 
Alys Russell the only one for whom he has expressed 
affectionate concern. Casual conversation in truth does not 



AN INTRODUCTION 

amuse him; he prefers reading and he dislikes “ unnecessary 
communications ” from those he lives with. If he married a 
chatterbox as a “ second ”, Heaven help her! 

The plain truth is that his emotional life — all his capacity 
for personal intimacy, and for over-appreciation of another’s 
gifts — has been centred in his wife and partner, and his wife 
just because she is also his partner. One of his most attractive 
gifts as a life companion is his gaiety of nature, he is nearly 
always happy. One refrain recurs continuously in his con- 
sciousness and he does not hesitate to express it — an almost 
chiMlike gratitude for his good luck in life. “ We ought to do 
good work,” he often says as we wander arm-in-arm together 
or I sit on his lap by the firelight, “ we have been so amaz- 
ingly fortunate.” Content with his lot in life, enjoyment of 
the daily round of research and the writing of books, the 
interest of an observer in the tasks of an M.P. and party 
leader; a varied outlook on life, a pleasant sense of humour, 
above all a continuous helpfulness to other people, are 
delightful characteristics in a constant companion — they 
make life seem worth while. And, if there be a touch of 
absurdity in his adoration of a helpmate, it is a flaw in his 
reasonableness which she discounts to his credit! Also, he 
has her “ on the lead ” and, when she strays into morbid 
_^ways, or darts off in,a panic, she is firmly but gently pulled 
back with deprecating chaff combined with soothing reflec- 
tions on the relative unimportance of any particular happen- 
ing and even doubts as to the significance of her own frame 
of mind. Thus the monstrous self fades off the screen of her 
consciousness to be replaced by refreshing vistas of the past 
history and future prospects of the luSman race, as if the 
life-force were as beneficent as he is himself. For the Other 
One is an unrepentant optimist in big things and small! 
Sometimes he mocks at his own confidence in the well- 
meaning of the^universe. “ When I was a child,” says he, 
“ haunted by a future'^Hell, f remember casting out the fear 
once for all by thinking to myself — perhaps derived from 
Martin Elginbrod, if I had then read him—* If I were God, 
and He were I, I should forgive Him His trespasses He 



HIS FAITH 

is not worse but better than I.” And he adds, “ In our 
critkism of Nature’s doings why should we not give the 
Almighty God ‘ the benefit of the doubt ’? But the doubt 
must be an honest doubt and not contrary to evidence.” 

The days of his absence are weary to get through; and 
the sleepless hours of the night are haunted, not by the fear 
of death, but by the dread of life without him. 



! 


CHAPTER I 

STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
1892-1898 

We opened Our Partnership with certain assets. An un- 
earned income of ;£iooo a year, and a liking for the simple 
life, ensured unfettered freedom in the choice of a career. 
We'were in the prime of life and in good health; we felt 
assured of loving companionship without end, a confidence 
which proved singularly well-founded; we shared the same 
faith and practised the same craft; we enjoyed laughing at 
ourselves and at other people. “ Two second-rate minds but 
curiously complementary ", I had recorded in my diary on 
our engagement to be married. Sidney had unique aptitude 
for documentary research; he could rush through MS. and 
printed pages at an incredible rate, turning out sheafs of 
separate sheets whereon were methodically inscribed, in 
immaculate handwriting, tables of statistics, minutes of pro- 
ceedings, series of events, rival hypotheses as to causal con- 
nection, apt quotations, each paper complete in itself with 
reference and date— *-all essential material for the discovery 
of the attributes of various types of organisations. He was a 
good linguist; he spoke and wrote fluently. He had an 
amazing capacity for memorising facts, and developing, in 
logical sequence and lucid phrase, arguments and con- 
clusions. Skill in social intercourse was my special gift. An 
experienced hostess, I had never felt the'sensation of shyness 
in any company of men and women, whatever their char- 
acter or intelligence, their status or occupation; I could in- 
sinuate myself into smoking-rooms, business offices, private 
and public confierencgs, without rousing suspicion. I may 
observe in passing that, in*tjjose days of unemancipated 
females, to be a woman and, therefore, at the start-off, not 
taken seriously, yielded better innings, whether through 
cross-examination, disguised as light conversation, or by a 


12 


QUALIFICATIONS FOR RESEARCH 
happy-go-lucky acquisition (by guile, not theft) of confi- 
dential documents. I revelled in observing and recording the 
sayings and doings of men and describing their reactions to 
particular kinds of industrial or political institutions; and 
I jumped quickly out of old categories into fresh lines of 
enquiry. The two together had a wide acquaintance with men 
and women of all grades of poverty and affluence — ^^of varied 
occupation and professions. Sidney had graduated as a civil 
servant through three government departments — the War 
Office, the Inland Revenue and the Colonial Office. As 
successful journalist, lecturer and pamphleteer, he was 
acquainted with the newspaper world, with the Radical 
caucus of the metropolis and provincial towns, and he was 
intimate with many of the rising intellectuals of bis own 
generation. A few months before our marriage, he had 
become one of the leaders of the Progressive Party then 
dominating the London County Council. Born and bred in 
the world of the big business of two continents, I had, as 
a young girl, dashed about the outer ring of London 
“ society ”, spent week-ends at the country houses of 
bankers and brewers and, more rarely, in the homes of 
county magnates. In these delectable places, I had associated 
with men of science and distinguished ecclesiastics; with 
Cabinet Ministers and leading lawyers; with “society” 
dames and university dons. For the six years prior to our 
marriage, I had devoted my free time to getting an inside 
knowledge of the homes and work-places of representative 
groups of manual workers ; as rent collector and “ would 
be ” sweated worker in the slums of East London, as col- 
laborator in Charles Booth’s * great enquiry into the Life 
and Labour of the People^ as a welcome visitor in the homes of 
my cousins among the Lancashire cotton operatives; ^ and, 
most important of all, through friendly intercourse with the 
leaders of the co-operative and trade union,movements. 

There were, I must admit, ‘disabling gaps in our know- 
ledge of Victorian England. We ignored and w'^ere ignored 
by fashionable “ society ” — not to mention “ the smart set ”, 

’ See My Apprenticeship, chapters v and vi. ^ SeeTtbid. pp. i 


13 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
Our minds were blank about the professionals and the multi- 
tudinous amateurs of high and low degree, of sport, games 
and racing. Few and far between were the diplomatists who 
sought us out; and foreign affairs, generally speaking, were 
a closed book to us. And alas! owing to our concentration on 
research, niunicipal administration and Fabian propaganda, 
we had neither the time nor the energy, nor yet the means, 
to listen to music and the drama, to brood over classic litera- 
ture, ancient and modern, to visit picture galleries, or to 
view with an informed intelligence the wonders of archi- 
tecfure. Such dim inklings as we had of these great human 
achievements reached us second-hand through our friend- 
ship with Bernard Shaw. Our only vision of the beautiful 
arose during our holiday wanderings, at home and overseas, 
sometimes walking, sometimes cycling, by river and forest 
path, over plain and mountain, in mist, cloud and sunshine. 

Thus, we started Our Partnership with an agreeable 
independence of the world’s opinion and delicious depend- 
ence on each other. From an old woman likely to know, an 
ingenuous youth enquired: “After love-making and suffi- 
cient income, what’s necessary for a happy marriage.^ ” 
“ Identity of taste in seemingly unimportant matters,’’ I 
rapped out somewhat heedlessly, “ such as, open or closed 
^windows, regular o^- irregular hours, simple or elaborate 
meals, spells of silent fellowship or continuous talk about 
nothing in particular.” Then, after reflection: “ Unity of 
temperament on the one vital issue, self-expression or self- 
control. Is the way of life to be governed by the impulse of 
the moment for or against particular persons or places, 
occupation or amusements; or is it to bfi determined accord- 
ing to an agreed plan adhered to by both parties, irrespective 
of momentary likes or dislikes? ” “ Oh 1 ” retorted the youth, 
“ the old quarrel of reason versus emotion? ” “ Not at all,” 
I answered; “f»atterns of behaviour, codes of conduct, 
general plans, whether for thn^years or a lifetime, arise, so 
far as I know, from unreasoning, though not necessary 
unreasonable, emotion. Is not a general plan of conduct 
inspired and dominated by emotion the epicentre of all 


14 


A PLAN OF LIFE 


religions? However that may be, living accordmg to plan is 
a surer basis for happy marriage than the perpetual shifting 
desire for self-expression. The impulse of the moment, noble 
or ignoble, aesthetic or philistine, is* apt to differ every 
time, and all the time, from individual to individual. Living 
according to a deliberately thought-out plan, however tire- 
some and thwarting it may occasionally be, is an automatic 
aid to continuous comradeship.” 

Now a plan of life involved in our view not merely a 
deliberately designed method or style of living, but also an 
object to be sought, and as far as possible attained, as the 
result of our living. This is what is sometimes called a 
philosophy of life. Fundamentally, we agreed about this, 
though minute introspection might discover from time to 
time some variation of emphasis, and even differences of 
outlook. From many of the common ends of life we were 
saved by circumstances. Our income sufficed for our needs ; 
and we felt none of the usual temptations to increase our 
joint little fortune, and (as we realised) thus become en- 
tangled in the trammels and trappings of wealth. The fact 
that our marriage proved to be childless made easy what 
other people sometimes called our “ financial disinterested- 
ness ”. We had no objection to receiving payment for articles 
or lectures when it was offered to us; a.nd we welcomed, as 
enabling us to engage additional assistance, the few hundreds 
a year which, as time went on, accrued from the sale of our 
solid but unreadable books. Indeed, we sometimes sought 
payment when it did not hinder our work or prevent us from 
saying what we liked, especially at times when the expenses 
of our investigatiofis threatened to exceed our current 
account. We even scrupled sometimes at “ spoiling the 
market ” for others whose livelihood depended on writing 
or lecturing. We enjoyed our work quite as much when it 
brought no cheque as when we peddled fragments for pay- 
ment; for it was not only oui; vocation willingly rendered in 
return for our unearned income, but served also as our daily 
sport — the particular game of life we preferred to play. It 
remains to be added that Our Partnership was an indissoluble 

15 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
combination ‘of two strong and persistent aims. We were, 
both of us, scientists and at the same time Socialists. We had 
a perpetual curiosity to know all that could be known about 
the nature and working of the universe, animate as well as 
inanimate, psychical as well as material, in the belief that 
only by means of such knowledge could mankind achieve an 
ever-increasing control of the forces amid which it lived. We 
were, both of us, secularists, in the sense that we failed to 
find in the universe anything that was supernatural, or in- 
capable of demonstration by the scientific method of observa- 
tion, hypothetical generalisation and experimental or other 
form of verification. Like other scientists, we were obsessed 
by scientific curiosity about the universe and its working. 
But, unlike the astronomers and the physicists, the chemists 
and the biologists, we turned our curiosity to the phenomena 
that were being less frequently investigated, namely, those 
connected with the social institutions characteristic of homo 
sapiens^ or what is called sociology. We accordingly devoted 
ourselves as scientists to the study of social institutions, from 
trade unions to Cabinets, from family relationships to 
churches, from economics to literature — a field in itself so 
extensive that we have never been able to compass more 
than a few selected fragments of it. 

At the same time^ we were active citizens; and, as such, 
we had to have a practical policy of public life. Our growing 
knowledge of social institutions led us to a policy of trans- 
forming the organisation of wealth production and distribu- 
tion, from its basis of anarchic individual profit-making to 
one of regulated social service. That is to say, our action 
as electors, administrators and propagandists was that of 
Socialists, instead of that of Liberals or Conservatives. Look- 
ing back on half-a-century of scientific investigation and 
public activity, it seems to us in retrospect that every dis- 
covery in sociology apd, indeed, every increase in our own 
knowledge of social institutfops has strengthened our faith 
that the further advance of- human society is dependent on 
a considerably further substitution of institutions based on 
public service for those based on profit-making. We have. 


SCIENCE AND POLITICS 

accordingly, had the enjoyment of harmony bet,ween the two 
halves of our lives, between our scientific studies and our 
practical citizenship. At the same time, it must be admitted 
that our reputation or notoriety as Socialists has more than 
once aroused obstruction or hostility to our efforts, whether 
as individual investigators, or as promotei'S of adequately 
equipped sociological research, as an essential condition for 
the progress of mankind to ever higher levels of individual 
distinction and communal welfare. 

^t this point some readers may question whether it is 
desirable to combine scientific research into social institutions 
with active participation in their operation. Is the profes- 
sional administrator or legislator made more efficient or less 
efficient as such by being also a practised observer, reasoner 
and verifier in the domain in which he is temporarily an 
actor.? Conversely, is the scientific investigator, concerned 
essentially to discover the truth about the working or de- 
velopment of a particular type of economic or political 
organisation, rendered more likely or less likely to arrive 
at verifiable conclusions because he .finds himself tempo- 
rarily “ behind the scenes ”, or at the very centre of the 
current activities of the social institution in question, by his 
membership of the elected authority, or his appointment to 
its executive staff? I am disposed to think- that there is some- 
thing to be said on each side of the question. But I suggest 
that, if the human unit in the case is not a single individual 
but an intimate and durable partnership, the balance is 
wholly in favour of the combination of purposes. If one 
partner is predominantly and continuously the scientific in- 
vestigator, with onl}^ slight and occasional participation in 
active life, whilst the other partner is more continuously 
entangled in administration or legislation, with only second- . 
ary and intermittent personal work in investigation or re- 
search, their incessant intimate discussions ir^y well increase 
the efficiency and augment tlie* yield of both sides of each 
other’s intellectual activities. I believe that, from time to 
time, we had evidence of this happy result in Our Partner- 
ship. In the earlier years, when I was almost wholly engaged 
, 17 ' ' ■■ ■ 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
in studying tjie records and the working of trade unionism, 
the Other One, whilst intermittently sharing in different 
parts of England in this absorbing quest, was chairman of 
the Technical Education Board, and (as described in a 
following chapter) was mainly engaged, during three- 
quarters of each of six successive years, in laying the founda- 
tions of a unified educational system for the whole of London, 
and watching very closely the reactions upon schemes of 
vocational training of all the trade unions of the metro- 
polis. Our duality was, in this instance, of* reciprocal ad- 
vantage. In another instance, about quite a different social 
institution, the Royal Commis*sion or Select Committee, 
our experience yields a similar result. Both partners devoted 
much time and thought to the voluminous records and 
published criticisms of a whole century of these bodies, of 
various types and diverse compositions. But we never got a 
satisfactory hold on the conditions and the expedients that 
determined success, or failure, in each of the hundred or 
more specimens that we studied, until we both had enjoyed 
brief and intermittent experiences of actual membership of 
these bodies — membership in which the knowledge gained 
from investigation of the past was joined with incessant 
watchfulness of the happenings in which we were taking 
part. This was markedly seen when, from 1905 to 1910, I 
was a member of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law 
and the Relief of Distress from Unemployment; and the 
Other One was free for incessant consultation and enquiry 
outside. 

Trade Union Enquiry 

For the first six years of our married life — the part 
covered by this and the following chapter — our energies ran 
in three channels. There was the enquiry into the British 
trade union mQvement .and the publication of The History 
of Trade Unionism in 1894, dda. 6 .Jndustrial 'Democracy in 1898 ; 
there was Sidney’s administrative work on the London 
, Comity Council and the establishment and chairmanship 
of the Technical Education Board; and, towards the end 
■■■ :-u8 


TRADE UNION ENQUIRY 

of the time, there was the initiation of the London School of 
Economics and Political Science. Finally, always and every- 
where, there was propaganda of Fabian collectivism. In the 
following pages I describe the first of these activities, our 
researches into the constitution and working of British 
trade unionism and our consequent association with trade 
union officials and representatives, as these experiences were 
reflected in the pages of my MS. diary supplemented by 
our joint memories. 

And here F must revert to my unmarried days a few 
months before I met the Other One. In My Apprenticeships 
I have described how my investigations into the sweated 
industries of East London had convinced me that if the 
capitalist system was not to lead to “ earnings barely suffi- 
cient to sustain existence; hours of labour such as to make 
the lives of the workers periods of almost ceaseless toil, hard 
and unlovely to the last degree ; sanitary conditions injurious 
to the health of the persons employed and dangerous to the 
public ” — to quote the words of the House of Lords Com- 
mittee on Sweating in 1 8 8 9-90 — capitalist enterprise had to 
be controlled, not exceptionally or spasmodically, but uni- 
versally, so as to secure to every worker prescribed minimum 
conditions of employment. Even in the co-operative move- 
ment, which had been started by working-men in the in- 
terests of the producers, but had developed into a consumers’ 
organisation bent on getting the best quality for the lowest 
price, some such control was clearly necessary. This control 
was, in organised industries, such as cotton and mining and, 
to a lesser extent, engineering and shipbuilding, already 
operative, either thfough the specific device of trade 
unionism- — collective bargaining — or by the legislative 
enactment secured by the pressure of the trade unions and 
their advisers and sympathisers. But, brought up as I had 
been, in a stronghold of capitalism, under ^he tutelage of 
the great apostle of laisser-fayrl, Herbert Spencer,* I was 

• Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), “the household saint and philosopher of the 
hearth ” of Beatrice’s youth. An uncompromising individualist, he cancelled her 
appointment as his literary executor on the announcement of her marriage to a 
Socialist. See Biographical Index. (Ed.) 


^9 



STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
fully aware of the various objections to trade unionism; 
how it prevented, or at least hindered, the introduction of 
new inventions and the better organisation of the workshop ; 
how it had fomented strikes and compelled employers to 
resort to lock-outs; how it had restricted output, either by 
rule or indirectly by limiting the number of apprentices ; and 
how it had thus checked the mobility of labour from place to 
place and industry to industry, and damaged Great Britain’s 
capacity to compete in the markets of the world. And it so 
happened that, at the very time I was meditating on the 
virtues and vices of trade unionism, there broke out the 
great London Dock Strike of 1889, which, for the first time, 
united in one solid phalanx the thousands of casual labourers 
I had watched, day after day, at the gates of the dock com- 
panies, and in the tenement houses of East London. More- 
over, this movement had secured an unusual amount of 
public sympathy among all classes of the community and 
financial support from the manual workers as far off as 
Australia. Hence it was not surprising that I used up a fort- 
night in August 1889 in attending the Trades Union Con- 
gress at Dundee, a Congress at which there was a battle 
royal between the “ Old Unionists ” and the “ New 
Dundee, August 1889.^ — ^This morning, while I was breakfesting, 
Shipton — the chairman of the parliamentary committee of the Trades 
Union. Congress, and secretary of the London Trades Council — 
joined me. His view of the Dock Strike is strongly adverse to the men; 
he is visibly biassed by his antipathy to, I might almost say hatred of. 
Burns. Ben Tillett is, he says, an enthusiast who, however, has “ made 
a good thing ” out of his enthusiasm. The way the strike was started, 
he told me, was illegitimate. No responsible olBcial of a trade union 
which had funds of its own to lose, woulcf treat employers in that 
fashion. Ben Tillett drew up a letter demanding Certain concessions and 
sent it with a letter announcing that, if these demands were not con- 
* “ The leaders of the New Unioaists (1884-89) . . . sought to bring into the 
ranks of existing organisations— the trade unions, the Municipality, or the State — 
such masses of unorg'anised workers who had hitherto been entirely outside the pale, 
or inert elements within it. They aimed, not at superseding existing structures, but 
at capturing them all in the interests of 'the wage-earners. Above all, they sought 
to teach such masses of undisciplined workers how to apply their newly acquired 
political power so as to obtain in a perfectly constitutional manner, whatever changes 
m legislation or administration they desired.” — History of Trade Unionism, by 
S. and B. Webb, p. 404. (Ed.) 


20 


TRADE UNION PROGRESS 

ceded by 12 o’clock that morning, the men would come out. “Just 
fancy,” he addedj “ expecting a manager to decide a question of enor- 
mous financial importance without consulting his directors! ” Then 
Burns came on the scene with his intense desire for notoriety and his 
foreign ideas of the solidarity of labour which he is trying to foist on 
British trade unionists. But it won’t work. Each trade has its own 
interests and technicalities; and all organisation, to be permanently 
successful, must be based on the appreciation of these interests and on 
a knowledge of the facts of the special trade concerned. “ Look how the 
‘ Knights of Labour ’ ^ have failed (in the United States) — that sort 
of thing is bound to break up in the end. The capitalist has only to 
sit still with folded hands. If the dock companies stand out— if Aey 
are able to resist the other capitalist interests which are using the 
strike to get their own way — if they are able to resist this pressure 
the whole organisation will break down and the workers will dribble 
back.” 

So spoke Shipton. Clearly, whatever may be his sympathy for dock 
labour, his dislike of a Socialist victory was the stronger feeling, . . . 

Shipton is not an attractive man. Small, with a weasel-like body and 
uncertain manner, and an uneasy contorted expression; grey eyes with- 
out candour or freshness, and with that curious film over them which 
usually denotes an “ irregular ” life; deep furrows under the eyes and 
round the mouth; bald-headed with a black beard neatly trimmed; a 
general attempt at middle-class smartness completes the outward man. 
An ambitious disappointed man, a certain feeling of uncertainty as to 
his own position. Ability, divided aims, are the characteristics which 
seem most marked to the observer. I should irpagine that in his heart 
of hearts he has little sympathy with the working-man, that he prizes 
his position as an official because of the power it brings. . . . 

Tuesday. Dundee, Sept. 1889. — A battle royal at Congress be- 
tween the supporters of Broadhurst and old-fashioned methods, on the 
one hand, and the Socialists led by Burns and Mrs. Besant, on the other. 
These two leaders, however, were absent: the Socialist Party was led 
by two somewhat foolish young men, delegates of the London com- 
positors, and suffered in consequence. The battle raged round the per- 
sonal abuse of Broadhurst. The Socialists have apparently spent the last 
year in spreading calumny of all sorts, besides trying to persuade the 
rank and file that Broadhurst is a reactionary. But i think they have 

' Though trade unionism was legalisSd in the U.S.A. in 1845, the “ Knights 
of Labour ” were founded in 1869 as a secret organisation “ to secure and maintain 
the rights of working-men against their employers ”. They organised a general 
sU'ike of colliers and railwaymen in 1887, involving some 50,000 strikers, but the 
strike collapsed before the end of the year. (Ed.) 


21 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
carried it too /ar. Among English working-men of the better type 
there is a rooted dislike to desert old leaders; an intense suspicion of the 
mere talker who has not proved his faculty for steady work. Then the 
Socialist at present labours under the disadvantage of relying on out- 
side money and outside brains. “ Why should I be dictated to by an 
ex-artillery officer? (Champion) ” was one of Broadhurst’s most 
effective points. Trade unionists are jealous of interference and are 
intensely exclusive. (“ Why are you here/’ I am frequently asked, 
“ come with mischief in your pocket, to plot and plan? ”) 

So the whole Congress set its back up; the Socialists dwindled down 
to eleven while Broadhurst’s supporters numbered 177. A brilliant 
vietory for the conservative section — conservative, not in politics but 
in the methods and aims of their own organisation. 

With Broadhurst I lunched afterwards, and smoked a cigarette. His 
suspicions of my intentions were completely dissipated when he heard 
I was an anti-suffrage woman: he immediately thought me sensible and 
sound. “ When I hear a woman’s name talked of I am immediately 
prejudiced against her; but I can see that you are as different as pitch 
from diamonds! ” So he chatted on about societies, trade unionism, 
and his own complaints and showed every sign of becoming con- 
fidential. A commonplace person: hard-working no doubt, but a 
middle-class philistine to the back-bone: appealing to the practical 
shrewdness and high-flown, but mediocre, sentiments of the comfort- 
ably-off working-man. His view of women is typical of his other 
views: he lives in platitudes and commonplaces. 

In spite of the prejudices and exclusiveness of the leading trade 
unionists, the frank fellowship, the absence of .personal animus and 
personal rivalry, the general loyalty to leaders and appreciation of real 
work, as distinguished from talk, are refreshing. Then, among the 
veterans, the officials of the largest, oldest and most influential unions, 
there is a knowledge of facts, and realisation of industrial problems, an 
appreciation of commercial and financial matters, which makes one 
feel hopeful of tlie capacity for self-government in the working-class. 
Very different from the Socialist leaders, with the dirty personalities 
with which they pelt each other; with their envy and malice against 
any leader, and with their ignorance, one might almost say their 
contempt and hatred of facts. A crew of wrecked reputations, poli- 
ticians on the make, and paid intriguers from the Tory caucus, inter- 
spersed, it is true/ with beardlesShCnthusiasts of all sorts and conditions, 
and redeemed by a John Emms, vnho seems to be a man with a con- 
science and a will. But is he not departing from the Socialist camp? 

Another scene. Breakfast table. On my right Broadhurst, beaming 
over his ham and eggs and the delightful memories of yesterday’s 


22 


TRADES UNION CONGRESS 


triumph over his enemies. “ Yes, we are now going to take our stand 
against the intrusion of strangers into our body on false pretences. They 
blame' us for being exclusive; they have made us ten times more ex- 
clusive. We have cleared the platform of outsiders, we will now clear 
the press table from intriguers.” 

All this muttered loud enough for my neighbour on the left to 
hear. Cunninghame Graham is pouring over the Labour Elector. 
(Cunninghame Graham is a cross between an aristocrat and a barber’s 
block. He is a poseur, but also an enthusiast, an unmitigated fool in 
politics, I think.) “ I have a letter from Kropotkin,” Cunninghame 
Graham whispem to me; “ he says, and I agree with him, if Burns 
with 80,000 men behind him does not make a revolution, it is becwse 
he is afraid of having his head cut olF. Burns is a grand fellow tho’, 
different from these miserable slaves of bourgeois trade unionists,” 
he adds, with a wave of his hand towards Broadhurst, a wave of the 
hand which gradually settles down upon a loaf of brown bread which 
C. G. believes to be common property, but which, unfortunately, 
happens to be specially prepared for her great man’s over-taxed diges- 
tion by Mrs. Broadhurst. The bourgeois slave watches with indigna- 
tion the delicately tapering fingers of tlie anarchist clutch hold of his 
personal property, and with a large perspiring palm of the outstretched 
hand grasps the whole thing in his fingers. “ No, no, Sir, not that,” he 
roars; “ this is my omt bread, made by my own wife, in my own house, 
and carried here in my own portmanteau, that you cannot have.” 
Cunninghame Graham withdraws with the apologies of a gentleman. 
“ Not my bread; I’d rather he destroyed my reputation than took my 
bread,” roared the dyspeptic but somewhat gluttonous Broadhurst. 
Cunninghame Graham looks unutterably disgusted, and wipes his 
aristocratic hand with soft cambric. ... 

Other scenes in the private smoking-room of the leading trade 
unionists, to which I was introduced by Broadhumt’s favour. Not 
altogether a nice atmosphere; with a good deal of lobbying apparent 
in the background, resulting in the return of the old parliamentary 
committee with only oife change. “ Dirty work,” said Burnett, ^ with 
a look of unutterable contempt in his clear grey eyes, “ the sailor 2 
brought twenty votes, practically exchanging them for a seat on the 
committee. Too much of that sort of thing.” 

Altogether the later scenes of the Congress did not impress me so 
favourably as the opening days, whep only ioyalty'to the old leaders 
was apparent. The trade unionists^ are a fine body of men; but they 

' John Burnett, former -secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and 
afterwards Labour correspondent of the Board of Trade. 

» Havelock Wilson, organiser of the National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union. 


23 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


are lacking in the naive enthusiasm and open-hearted cordiality of the 
co-operators. They are ofBcials, and officials who live by manipulating 
their constituents; they have the vices of officials combined with those 
of popular representatives. The majority of them are aiming at the 
dignity of the J.P., or the more solid preferment of the factory in- 
spectorship. . . . The upshot of the Congress was the rehabilitation 
of Broadhurst and the old gang and the discomfiture of the Socialist 
outsiders. There are signs that the victorious leaders, warned by the 
Socialist attack, will try to tighten their hold by placing the Congress 
on a more representative basis with regard to members and payment. 
At present, every delegate has one vote; and a union may send any 
number of delegates irrespective of their membei'ship and contribution. 
This gives undue influence to mushroom unions which may be created 
in order to swamp solid trade union organisations. On the other 
hand, if membership were duly represented, the great conservative 
unions of Lancashire would exclude from all power the new blood. 
The officials of these old standing unions have become intimately con- 
nected with the employers. Many of them are J.P.’s and most of 
them Conservative in politics. They believe in arbitration and con- 
ciliation and in dealing with each trade separately. All action is to be 
based on technical knowledge of the special trade. They are fully 
alive to foreign competition, and even versed in all the intricacies of 
the currency question. With them trade unionism is rapidly assum- 
ing the form of a union of all the producers in one trade against the 
outside world. The differences between the two great classes of pro- 
ducers, capitalist brain-workers, on the one hand, and on the other, 
manual wage-earners, , are to be settled by experts from both sides. 
Mere ideas, such as the solidarity of labour, are to them absurd. “ We 
lived through all that,” said Birtwistle (the veteran leader of the cotton 
weavers); “ they imagine themselves the advance guard, they are 
really the babies of trade unionism.” 

Thus, one of the cleavage lines in the Congress between the old and 
the new school was the question of sending representatives to foreign 
and international congresses. The younger school maintains that the 
very difficulty of foreign competition would be solved by the solidarity 
of labour; and that the fossil trade unions are diverted from vigorous 
action by the mere pedantry of technical knowledge of the “ ins and 
outs ” of one tiny specimen of industry. 

The eight-hours question vras fought on these lines and the 
specialists won by a fair majority. ® 

The following two years were spent in nursing my 
father; using any free time in attending Co-operative Con- 


CO-OPERATIVE CONFERENCES 
ferences and touring Co-operative Societies. Meanwhile, we 
had entered into an early phase of Our Partnership. As de- 
scribed in My Apprenticeship, we met for the first time in 
January 1890, and at Whitsun of that year we found our- 
selves together at the Glasgow Co-operative Congress. A 
telegram from a leading weekly, asking me to contribute 
a signed article on Lord Rosebery’s presidential address, 
ended in Sidney helping me to write it. The joint article 
proved too long; the “ editor ” cut my stuff out and put his 
stuff in: consequence — mingled annoyance and pleasure! 

< “ I had no idea that Beatrice was such an accomplislTed 
journalist,” observed one brother-in-law to another; “ is she 
going to take to it as a profession.? ” At the Lincoln Co- 
operative Congress of 1891, we were privately pledged to 
marriage; and the following August holiday finds me care- 
taking Herbert Spencer’s house in St. John’s Wood (the 
philosopher being away in the country), a convenient meet- 
ing-place with a civil servant care-taking the British Empire 
from Whitehall! 

Si. John's Wood, August i/\.th, 1891. — A succession of trade 
unionists to dine here [I record in my diary]. Poor Herbert Spencer — 
to think that his august dining-room is nightly the scene of Socialist 
talk, clouds of tobacco smoke aided with whiskey. Maxwell, Broad- 
hurst’s secretary, the shrewdest of mortals, who is friendly to me in 
the extreme, and anxious to help; but a cynic: the trade union world, 
according to him, is by no means lovely — more intriguing, it seems, 
than the co-operative world. 

“ I do not believe that there was a single secretary of a trade 
union that did not write to the governor (Broadhui-st) to ask for an 
appointment as’ factory inspector ” (Broadhurst had been Under- 
secretary for the Home* Office in 1885). By the way, the whole in- 
fluence of the Home Office has been thrown against appointing 
working-men as factory inspectors. “ You have no idea — working- 
men will do anything or give anything in order to be free of manual 
labour. There is no effort they won’t make, no meanness they won’t 
Stoop to, to turn themselves into ‘oi^ce me» ’. It is feeling conscious 
of this that makes them so suspicious of each other’s effort.” 

He is fat and good-natured, with a detached intellect; never gives 
you his views, except about persons, and then he has humour and a 
sharp stinging tongue. He works for Broadhurst night and day; for 

25 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


very little pay, tut with an apparent devotion; his motive is a riddle; 
he is unmarried, with no apparent convictions except a general 
scepticism of things divine and human. 

I shall have some trouble to get my information. Most of the trade 
union oIEcials are hard-headed, suspicious men, with an anti-feminist 
bias. Moreover, where they themselves are friendly, there is often on 
their part a dread of their assistant secretary. The latter is usually him- 
self elected by the members as a sort of check on the general secretary. 
If you have one for you, you usually have the other against you. But 
we shall see. ... 

Septmher — . . . And for Sidney [I note a few weeks 

latSf on, when I am again in attendance on my father, studying the 
material I had gathered], this enquiry will be of untold use. Tlie 
politician of the future must understand all the details of industrial 
life; he must be, before all things, a practical economist. For 
economics in the widest sense are rapidly becoming the technical 
side of the politician’s work. Also, he is learning through this wider 
intercourse with facts and men, a more proportionate sense and a 
wider judgement than was possible to a London civil servant. Thus, 
from a strictly personal point of view, an acquaintance with the 
leaders of working-class organisation throughout the country will be 
a highly-desirable connection, not to be despised. So that, in helping 
me, he does not feel, nor am I conscious, that this work is my par- 
ticular concern. ... 

On New Year’s Day, 1 8 92, my father died and in a week’s 
time our engagement was communicated to my family and 
friends.’ But we were in no hurry to get married. Sidney had 

' Here are three entries from the MS. diary of my sister, Kate Courtney, January 
1892. The first from a description of her eight sisters, written whilst staying with 
me for my father’s funeral; the other two a few days after hearing of my engagement 
to S. W. 

, . Beatrice — ^handsome and slightly Jewish-looking with a very intellectual 
face — gives herself up to investigating social questions — has written a book on 
Co-operation, is writing a larger one on trade unions — is in close alliance and 
friendship with tlie Fabian Socialists — ^particularly one of them — a great friend of 
Mrs. J. R. Green — she is much admired by many people though some of the family 
shake their heads a little over her emancipated ways and advanced views, — but with 
half admiration also. Father’s death frees her to follow her own career without a tie 
of any sort. . . .” , 

“. . . A letter comes from Beatrice, which is a great surprise to me and not at 
first quite a welcome one! S^e annotmees her engagement to Sidney Webb — the 
Fabian Socialist leader. The day before, in answer to a note from the Pall Mall, I 
had absolutely contradicted the rumour, supposing I should certainly have heard 
something if it were true. But Bee judged, rightly I think, that father’s funeral 
should pass off without this new excitement. . . . On the Sunday night, Bee 
brought S. Webb to dinner and the A. Cripps came also. I had never seen him, but 

26 


TRADE UNION INVESTIGATION 


resigned from the Civil Service and was busy writing the 
literature for, and helping to organise the victory of, the 
Progressives at the London County Council election of 
March 1892, at which he won by a large majority the 
Deptford seat from the Tories. Anxious to complete the 
enquiry into Lancashire and Yorkshire trade unions, I 
settled down in a lodging in Manchester and was immedi- 
ately elected an honorary member of the club of trade 
union officials which met every Thursday in a Deansgate 
public-house. Aided by our newly engaged secretary, F. W. 
Galton, who was not only a bright and attractive youth “But 
also the secretary of the trade union of highly-skilled 
silver crest engravers, I started out to attend trade union 
meetings whilst superintending Galton’s work on trade 
union documents. 

Manchester^ February i \th, 1892. — Exactly three weeks since I set 
my foot in Manchester. Have been working hard; looking through 
minute books, interviewing and attending business meetings of trade 
unions. It was stupid of me not to think of this idea before. One learns 
so much more by observing men at their work, than by simply reading , 
reports, etc. But it never struck me that I could get into the private 
executive meetings of societies and see for myself the sort of questions 
that arise. But, at present, it is difficult to see the wood for the trees; I 
am groping about, catching on first to one trunk and then to another; 
trying to follow the lines of growth of the branches, and the lie of the 
roots; and getting sadly mixed up in my ideas. But I am working hard 
and well. My engagement to S. W. has not injured me in the least; 
except, perhaps, with Birtwistle. . . . 

There were, however, days of relaxation in the midst of 
all this drudgery, and I give two entries: 

Manchester , February iZth, 1892. — . . . Two days utter exhaus-j. 
tion. Last Sunday was delightful; I need him once a week to rest me in! 
the sublime restfulness of love, and he needs me to soothe him and 1 

only Eeard various accounts not at aU flattering. He was quiet, perhaps shy — but he 
looks strong and able though not much of a figure a mat!> and I hope we may 
like him. Beatrice seems quietly happy anrf confident of the future, and she has a 
softness of expression and manner which' looks as if her feeling were engaged.’’ 

“ Tuesday i^th. — We met him again at Theresa’s [Cripps] with Daniel [Meinertz- 
hagen], W. Cripps, and Lallie [Holt], who was in great form in her most genial 
mood. Yes I think we may like this new brother-in-law whom we certainly should 
not have chosen. ...” 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
reduce his world of cross-purposes to its proper calm. But alas! Our 
work keeps us apart. ... 

May 4if^, 1892. — . . . Severe attack of influenza broke into my 
work; a fortnight in bed, just at the time of his triumphant return to 
the County Council, but the last week he was with me and we both 
went on to Liverpool. There 1 rested in the luxurious Holt mansion [my 
sister’s, Mrs. Robert D. Holt] for a week and then back again to work. 
I found Gallon working on the piles of material I had left. A good deal 
of his work had to be re-done, and the ensuing two weeks I spent in 
training him, he working all day under my eye. A sharp, attractive boy 
and assiduous worker, and as keen as a razor; a former pupil of Sidney’s 
in economics. But all my appointments to attend [trade union] execu- 
tive meetings had to be given up: a grievous disappointment to me. 

Then a fortnight’s holiday. . . . We spent four days at Arundel 
with Graham Wallas and the light-hearted Bernard Shaw, and then 
back again to our cosy lodging. Here for ten days; it seemed two. We 
have been working hard — shaping together the material into a rough 
history — and then he working at the reference library, whilst I casually 
interviewed trade unionists and superintended Galton."'To-day, he left 
me and I feel a bit lonesome. . . . We are certainly supremely for- 
tunate. We love each other devotedly; we are intensely interested in 
the same work; we have freedom and means to devote our whole lives 
to the work we believe in. Never did I imagine such happiness open 
to me. ... 

The last six weeks of solitary unmarried life were spent 
in Leeds attending -the delegates’ meeting of the Amalga- 
mated Society of Engineers to revise their rules*, to which I 
had been admitted by special resolution. 

Jtdy 2nd, 1892. — ^The delegates sat (68 of them) for six hours a day. 
This delegate meeting will be a crisis in the history of the A.S.E. For 
some time past, under the guidance of a weak secretary, there has been 
trouble within and without. The spirit and aspirations of the New 
Unionism have infected even this conservative and aristocratic body 
which, until a few years ago, has been little better than a great benefit 
society. Not that the A.S.E. has not fought its battles. The nine hours’ 
movement of 1872 was the beginning of a great revival of trade 
unionism and was* initiated by the A.S.E. But, except for one or two 
pitched battles at long intervals, the even tenour of benevolent claims 
has been uninterrupted. The A.S.E. has appeared to its members, 
scattered about — some in remote country districts — simply as one more 
great friendly institution for mutual help in common needs. . . . 

28 


AMALGAMATED SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS 

The scene has changed in the last two years. The two foremost 
figures in the Labour world, Tom Mann and John Burns, both happen 
to be members of the A.S.E. Though they won their reputation in 
organising unskilled workers, and in the political propaganda of the 
Socialist movement, their fellow-members have become proud of 
them and have been greatly influenced by their powerful cry of 
“ Forward! ”... 

In the more populous districts, and especially on the North East 
Coast, the A.S.E. have been stimulated to strike for new privileges. 
This has led to serious friction between the local district authorities, 
with a definite trade policy, and the central and unrepresentative exe- 
cutive in London, fitted by its constitution only to administer a frieraflly 
society. No guidance and no control, yet irritating repudiations or 
dilatory acceptance of the already acted on decisions of the local 
district committees. The London council has, in fact, fallen into uni- 
versal disrepute; and to make confusion worse confounded, the elaborate 
complicated local organisations, branches, local district committees, 
central district committees, grand committees, and joint committees, 
have thrown up a mass of divergent views for different and over- 
lapping areas. Hence, the public discredit of the A.S.E. and the dis- 
satisfaction and discord among its members. 

The recent disasters on the North East Coast have ripened dis- 
content into a determination to change the constitution of the Society 
fundamentally. Last year, the members voted, by a large majority, for 
a delegate meeting (the last one was in 1885), and for the past six 
months committees of revision have been sitting in all the centres of 
the engineering industry. The result is a “ book of suggestions ”, 258 
pages of closely printed amendments to the present rules: emanating 
from all parts of the U.K., and even from America and Australia. The 
delegates are confined to these suggestions: they cannot propose an 
amendment which does not appear in the book. I listened to a six hours’ 
debate on the subject (a proposal to create a permanent salaried executive 
committee, which was carried). One of the most level-headed dis- 
cussions I have ever heafd. 

I omit the greater part of my report of the discussion on 
most of these suggestions, which lasted for some weeks. 

There are half-a-dozen delegates who are quite admii-able debaters: 
clear, forcible, concise. The language*and arr^gement of some of the 
subjects are quite excellent and I longed to see some of the speakers in 
Parliament. There is no limitation of time; but this freedom to prose 
and rant has not been abused and I listened for six houm with no sense 
of boredom or impatience. 


29 


STUDIES IN BBITTSH TRADE UNIONISM 

The Conference is more or less divided up into sections or caucuses, 
pledged to a particular programme or reform — though, on the whole, 
there is a bona fide discussion of all the proposals. London and the North 
East Coast are found to stand for efficiency and inclusion; Manchester 
and Lancashire delegates represent a solid conservative reactionary vote 
and have opposed, tooth and nail, any radical change. Scotland would 
follow suit if it were not for a certain “ home rule ” tendency. Belfast 
is ultra Tory and has but one principle to promote — restriction of out- 
put in metliods of work and exclusiveness in membership. The Mid- 
land delegates and the Yorkshire scatter their votes indiscriminately 
for and against progressive proposals. But, undoubtedly, the most level- 
Imded as well as the ablest speakers are Socialists: for instance, Evans 
(Brighton); Sellicks (Woolwich); Barnes (Chelsea); Fletcher (New- 
castle); Halston (Gateshead). This is altogether an agreeable surprise 
to me. Hitherto, my experience has been that the more feather-headed 
workmen are Socialists. But then Socialism is rapidly changing in 
character; it is losing its revolutionary and class-bitter character, and 
becoming constitutional effort based on hope and not on hatred. The 
Manchester men, and the Scotch and Irish, are for the most part 
individualists; but, with the exception of Fergusson of Glasgow who 
is a canny Scotsman, they have no remarkable men among them; 
though they exhibit a certain shrewd caution, they are narrow-minded 
and illiberal. In fact, they are not good examples of their creed. 
Whether this is chance, or whether it signifies a general conversion 
of the more generous-hearted and intellectual workmen to Socialist 
economics, is a moot question. Such Socialism as there is, is of a 
decided Fabian type; and one realises that the facts and figures and 
general arguments are taken from Fabian literature. 

Some pleasant evenings I have had chatting with selected delegates. 
Yesterday evening I had a North East Coast man, an enthusiastic 
supporter of Sidney’s possible candidature for the Gateshead vacancy 
when it occurs. 

Altogether it has been a most fortunate coincidence — this A.S.E. 
delegate meeting and my visit to Leeds. Gallon drudges away in the 
board room of the Co-operators (we always secure an office out of 
the Co-operators) at the minutes, etc., of local societies. He works 
very hard but he needs more training. Sidney is indulgent and flattering 
in manner, I have to be critical. . . . 

The next entry is ‘emphatic, and written in large letters : 

Exit Beatrice Potter, July 23rd, 1892. 

Enter Beatrice Webb, or rather Mrs. Sidney Webb, for I lose alas! 
both names. 


30 




MARRIAGE 

It certainly never occurred to me that, near forty years after- 
wards, I should be again asked to change my name and its 
prefix — and by the same man 1 * The answer has been in 
the negative, with the approval of the Other One. 

The honeymoon was spent investigating on the spot the 
ramshackle trade societies of Dublin: nineteenth-century 
combinations of Catholic artisans, claiming direct descent 
from the exclusively Protestant guilds established in the 
seventeenth century by Royal Charter for the express 
purpose of preventing Papists gaining an honest livelihood. 
One of the societies, the Dublin Bricklayers’ Society, paraded 
the old parchment charter, bereft of its sealj and apparently 
handed over by the lawyer’s clerk to the society when the 
ancient companies were dissolved in 1843. Thence to 
Belfast, interviewing hard-fisted employers and groups of 
closely organised skilled craftsmen; many of them Scotch, 
veracious and cautious in their statements about their own 
conditions of employment, and contemptuous and indifferent 
to the Catholic labourers and women who were earning 
miserable wages in the shipyards and linen factories of 
Belfast. 

The honeymoon holiday ended at Glasgow, attending the 
Trades Union Congress, collecting trade union documents 
and interviewing trade union secretaries.* 

August 1 892. — Ugly certainly are the banks of the Clyde [I enter 
in my diary], and very hideous are the results of enormous earnings by 
certain sections of men, brutalised by want in bad times, and long 
hours of working during the spells of prosperity. The Clyde is the 
home of piece-work and contract work, of poverty, drunkenness, 
stupidity and competition. It is the paradise of the able, pushing man, 
who rises out of the slums to own a deer forest. . . . 

This time the Congress meant eight hours and no mistake [I enter 
later on]; a large majority of delegates were pledged to it owing to 
change of front of the cotton operatives. ... 

The sting of the New Unionist movement has been effectively 
drawn out by the adhesion of the cotton officials to the eight-hour 
day; on all other points, stalwart Old Unionists. The fact that the 

' When in 1929 Sidney was created Baron Passfield, Beatrice flatly refused to 
change her name and remained Mrs. Sidney Webb. (Ed.) 

■ : ,31 . ■ " ~ . 


STUDIES IN BRI^flSH TRADE UNIONISM 

cotton unionists have always been legalists was overlooked. The 
labourers’ unions too, are rapidly shrinking up with bad trade; while 
the Socialists, instead of being scurrilous and aggressive, are (under the 
influence of Fabianism) pursuing the policy of permeation — most suc- 
cessfully, I think. At the first Congress I attended, Dundee, only 
three years ago, Broadhurst reigned supreme, and the Socialists were 
at daggers drawn with all tlie Old Unionists, resorting to what 
Champion, with apparent approval, used to call “ political assassina- 
tion ”, that is the destruction of personal reputation by slandering. 
Now Sidney hobnobs with all the older men, and we are as friendly 
with Mawdsley as with Tillett. The last bit of permeation — rather a 
jffke — Mawdsley the Tory individualist, having been invited to address 
the Church Congress, begs us for hints. A Socialist discourse is promptly 
supplied him : it remains to be seen whether he accepts it. 

The hopeful side of the Labour movement seems to me a growing 
collectivism of the Miners’ Federation and the Cotton Unions, Here, 
at last, we are on solid ground and among men who, if they take a 
thing up, do it with the intention and capacity to carry it through. 

Exactly four weeks at Glasgow — the last ten days a rush of work — 
Sidney working the whole day on documents except the hours he 
spends trudging out to the far-off suburbs to interview trade union 
secretaries. Out of the four weeks we have had two holidays — a 
Sunday on Loch Awe with Auberon Herbert,* and a week-end visit 
to R. B. Haldane. 

Memory recalls the tall figure [of Auberon Herbert], 
wrapped in an old shawl, with vague blue eyes, soft high 
voice, flowing while beard — the Don Quixote of the nine- 
teenth century, waving one hand at us, while pushing his 
sailing boat away from the shore; giving us his final bless- 
ing; “ You will do a lot of mischief and be very happy in 
doing it.” 

But to resume the diary : , 

August 1892. — Sunday with Haldane was more remunerative. He 
is now an influential man: willing to stand in the background, to 
counsel the Ministers and act as go-between [I remind the reader 
that, in July 1892, the Liberal Party had taken office with a narrow 
majority]. Talked incessantly ,about the possibilities of reorganising 
the Home Office as the Ministry of Labour; perfecting the factory 
department. Ended in pressing us to write a memorandum for Asquith 

' The Hon. Auberon Herbert: see My Apprenticeship, pp. 187, 188, 189, 190, zig, 
3iz, 396. 


32 


\ 

41 GROSVENOR ROAD 

(a request since repeated by Asquith). Wrote it the other day, but 
stress of work made us keep it over till Edinburgh. Haldane not hope- 
ful of the future — “ constituencies not converted to collectivism — at 
least not in Scotland Sunday afternoon a fair bevy of “ Souls ” ^ 
came over to tea. Haldane prides himself on hovering between the 
fashionable paradise represented by the “ Souls ” and the collectivist 
state represented by the Fabians. “ Souls ” good to look at; gushing 
and anxious to strike up acquaintanceship with an unconventional 
couple. A charming pair — the Alfred Lytteltons — graceful, modest, 
intelligent, and with the exquisite deference and ease which con- 
stitutes good breeding. But to me the “ Souls ” would not bring “ the 
peace that passeth understanding ”, but a vain restlessness of tickled 
vanity. One would become quickly satiated. 

I leave Glasgow with no regrets. The working-men leaders here 
are an uninteresting lot; without enthusiasm or much intelligence. 
The Scotch nature does not lend itself to combination; the strong men 
seek to rise and push for themselves and not to serve others. And 
apparently the Co-operators have absorbed the finer intelligence and 
warmer hearts among the Scotch working-men of the official cast. 

41 Grosvenor Road 

A “ hard little house ”, so H. G. Wells described, in The 
New MacUavelli^ the home of the Oscar Baileys (alias 
Webbs) in Grosvenor Road, Westminster. To which I may 
add that it was ten-roomed, rent 1 10, served by two maids, 
and that we occupied it on lease for near" forty years. I think 
I must have broken records in having had, during that 
period, only five separate servants, one of whom was with 

• The following description of tire “ Souls ” is taken from An Autobiography, by 
Lord Haldane (1928), pp. izo-ai! “ I began in 1893 to move a good deal in what 
is called London Society. There was a group of well-known people nicknamed the 
‘ souls ’. They sometimes took themselves much too seriously, and on the whole it is 
doubtful whether their influence was on balance good. But they cared for literature 
and art, and their social gifts were so high that people sought much to be admitted 
into their circle. Among the men were Arthur Balfour, the late Lord Pembroke, 
George Curzon, Harry Cust, George Wyndham and Alfred Lyttelton. Among the 
women were Lady Ribblesdale, her sister Margot Tennant (afterwards Mrs. 
Asquith), Lady Elcho, Lady Desborough and Lady Horner. Week-end parties at 
which the ‘ souls ’ assembled were given at Panshajiger, Ashridge, Wilton and 
Taplow. Among the hostesses on these occasions were Lady Cowper, Lady Brown- 
low and Lady Pembroke, older but attractive women, who were gratefully but 
irreverently called the ‘ Aunts ’ of the ‘ souls One or two outside men were welcomed 
and were frequently guests on these occasions. Among them were John Morley, Sir 
Alfred Lyall, Asquith, and myself. We were not ‘souls ', but they liked our com- 
pany, and we liked theirs because of its brilliance.” (Ed.) 

33 » 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


me for over thirty years: another consequence of living- 
according to plan ; housemates like to know exactly what to 
Mpect, when and. where? Our workroom on the ground 
s^^oor, which served also for meals, a long narrow room 
running east to west, in early morning and late afternoon 
welcoming sunshine, was lined with books and blue-books ; 
the space left over covered with engravings and enlarged 
photographs of three generations of my family; from my 
grandparents and their children, to a selection from among 
a hundred or so nephews and nieces, with here and there a 
portrait of a near friend: Herbert Spencer, R. B. Haldane, 
Mandell Creighton, Bernard Shaw and Marie Souvestre; 
and two brothers-in-law, Leonard Courtney and Alfred 
Cripps (afterwards Lord Parmoor), I recall. On the half- 
laning the secretaiy’s office: oil-clothed floor, large deal 
writing-table, from floor to ceiling shelved with pamphlet 
boxes. As years went by, these hundreds of boxes, filled with 
tens of thousands of quarto-sized research notes, overflowed 
into an overhead box-room of identical shape. Not less 
utilitarian in its furnishings was the conventionally shaped 
sitting-room on the first floor; long seats fitted into alcoves 
and, under the western window, an escritoire, table heaped 
with books, three easy-chairs but no sofa: all designed to 
accommodate the largest number of guests standing or 
sitting. This harsh interior was redeemed by the unique 
interest and beauty of the outlook. To spring out of bed on 
a summer morning and see, spread out before you, the sun 
rising behind Lambeth Palace, on clear days the Dome of 
St. Paul’s and the spires of the City churches, its rays light- 
ing up the tiny waves breaking the surface of the swift-flow- 
ing tidal river, whilst oar-steered barges, some with red or 
yellow sails, drifting rafts of timber and steaming colliers 
passed under the Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges, was a 
joyful greeting to another day. Other scenes from the 
balcony of the sitting-room I remember; on still autumn 
days the river, in ebbing tide, sulking among the mud banks 
and lapping the anchored river-craft; or, in full tide, losing 
itself in fog, white, yellow or black, thus seeming as bound- 

. 34 




less in its expanse as the Mississippi; or, again, at night, 
city and river lights far and near, hardly distinguishable 
from the stars, sometimes the glow of brilliant moon- 
light, illuminating the moving waters, whilst blackening the 
bridges and their shadows. Other recreations were the walks 
along the Thames embankment, to the right past the Tate 
Gallery, the two Battersea bridges, the Royal Hospital and 
the Physic Garden, to the upper reaches of old Chelsea, 
where my sister Kate Courtney lived ; or to the left through 
the resort of Lords and Commons, the dwelling-place of the 
British Civil Service, the stately Inns of Court and thdr 
winsome gardens, citywards to the Cathedral of St. Paul’s 
to seek peace in the music of old-world Christian rites. 
Or, again, an evening stroll, under St. Thomas’s Hospital, 
watching the sun set across the river behind the terraced 
Houses of Parliament and the five towers of Westminster, 
secular and ecclesiastic. Even to-day, living in a delightful 
countryside, I sometimes feel homesick for the river Thames 
sweeping through the splendour and squalor of the birth- 
place of the nineteenth-century capitalist dictatorship. 

Our plan of life was to spend eight or nine months of the 
year in our London home; working together in the mornings 
at the book; Sidney devoting a long afternoon to L.C.C. 
administration ; the evenings either alonq together, browsing 
over periodicals and light literature, or discussing research, 
municipal administration or Fabian propaganda with friends 
and associates. The other months, especially the long 
summer recess of the County Council, were spent either in 
some countryside working up our material or in provincial 
towns carrying on OUr investigations; whilst every two or 
three years, usually on the publication of another volume, 
we treated ourselves to a few weeks’ complete holiday on 
the Continent. 

Here are a few entries from the diary, mainly concerned 
with The History of Trade Unionism and Industrial Democracy, 
and our consequent association with trade union officials : 

December ^oth, i8g2. — How gloomy other Christmas Eves have 
been; always the low-water mark of a year’s despair; at best an arid 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 

time of family gossip, over-eating, preparation for heartless winter 
games. Now I have won a vantage ground of wonderful happiness: 
and, even when physical energy ebbs low, I still feel fundamentally 
happy. And Sidney also has found a resting place. No need now to 
struggle for happiness or success; all energy can be given to work. . . . 

We have actually begun the book.* But, after writing the greater 
part of the first chapter, we are reading at the British Museum to get 
fresh ideas of eighteenth-century industry. It is still to be proved — 
the experiment of writing a book together — sometimes our ideas clash 
lind we fall between the rival ideas; but on the whole we get on. My 
only trouble is that I can work such short hours compared to him and 
I /eel a mere dilettante, but when spring comes I shall feel better. . . . 
Sidney for his part is enthusiastically happy. He seems to have settled 
down to the County Council administration work; at present largely 
engaged in planning the Technical Education Board. Parliament 
seems further off than ever; but we are getting used to the prospect 
of intellectual study, and the humble role of county councillor. But, I 
think, more is to be done by administrative experiment, on the one 
hand, and educating the constituencies, on the other, than by entering 
into the political game carried on in Parliament. . . . 

The Jrgoed, Sept, lyth, 1893. — ^The first fortnight [I write nine 
months later when we are at The Argoed, our old Monmouthshire 
home; still in the hands of my father’s executors], we spent finishing 
the sixth chapter of our book. Then Graham Wallas came, read our 
first chapter and severely criticised the form of it. He made me feel 
rather desperate about its shortcomings. So I took it and wrestled with 
it; writing out a comptete new syllabus with a quite different arrange- 
ment of the subject. This Sidney “ wrote to ” with my help. Bernard 
Shaw came ten days after and has stayed with us the remainder of our 
time working almost every morning at our book. The form of the first 
chapter satisfied him, and he altered only words and sentences. The 
second chapter he took more in hand and the third he has to a large 
extent remodelled. Sidney certainly has devoted friends. But then it is 
a common understanding with all these men that they use each other 
up when necessary. That is the basis of the influence of the Fabian 
Society on contemporary political thought; the little group of leaders 
are practical communists in all the fruits of their labours. While 
Bernard Shaw was working on the book, Sidney and I set about 
separate tasks. I attempted to w^'ite a lecture on the sphere of trade 
unionism; he worked at Tom Mann’s minority report.^ My attempt 

• The History of Trade Unionism. 

® The Minority Report of the Royal Commission on Labour. 

36 



FABIAN JUNTA 

proved to be a hopeless fiasco. I struggled vainly under my great mass 
of information; historical lore, statistics, analysis — the stuff over- 
whelmed me. After five days’ work I read to S. what I had written. 
He looked puzzled, and suggested that he should write it out. Then 
we had a bit of a tiff. For, when my miserable meanderings appeared 
in his clear hand, it was so obviously out of place for a lecture and 
that mortified me and I was in a devil of a temper. Next morning he 
sat down patiently to recast it, and we worked four days together and 
made a rough draft. Now I am working it up into lecture form. But 
my failure made me feel a bit of a parasite. So much for a holiday 
task. . . . 

The Fabian Junta '' 

As a relief from these entries about ourselves, I give my 
first impressions of S. W.’s friends and fellow-Fabians: 
Graham Wallas and Bernard Shaw, together with casual 
observations on John Burns and his relation to the Fabian 
Junta. 

The Argoed, September I'jth, 1893. — Graham Wallas — -six feet 
with a slouching figure — good features and genial, open smile — utterly 
unselfconscious and lacking in vanity or peisonal ambition. Without 
convictions he wotild have lounged through life — with convictions he 
grinds; his natural sluggishness of nature, transformed by his social 
fervour into a slow grinding at anything that turns up to do. In spite 
of his moral fervour, he seems incapable of directing his own life, and 
tends to drift into anydiing that other people ’’decide. This tendency 
is accentuated by his benevolence and kindliness and selflessness — 
almost amounting to a weakness. Thus, while his intimate friends 
love him and impose on him, superficial strangers of poor character 
often actually despise him. To some men and women he appears 
simply as a kindly, dull fellow — ^an impression which is fostered by a 
slovenliness of dress and. general worn-out look. He preaches too, a 
habit carried over from his life as usher and teacher of boys. To his 
disciples he appears a brilliant man, first-rate lecturer, a very genius 
for teaching, a great thinker and a conscientious writer. It remains 
to be seen what else he will become beyond a successful propagandist 
and an admirable and most popular University Extension lecturer. 
He has two books on hand — but, o^ing to his constant running off 
on other people’s business, they stand a poor chance of being finished 
within a year or so. If enthusiasm, purity of motive, hard if somewhat 
mechanical work, will make a man a success, then Graham Wallas 
has a great career before him. He has plenty of intellectual ability 

37 * . 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 

too; what he lacks is deliberate concentration and rapid decision what 
to do and how to do it. A loveable man. 

Bernard Shaw I know less well than Graham Wallas, though he is 
quite an old friend of Sidney’s. A fellow with a crank for not making 
money, except he can make it exactly as he chooses. Persons with no 
sense of humour look upon him as a combination of Don Juan and a 
professional blasphemer of the existing order. An artist to the tips of 
his fingers and an admirable craftsman; I have never known a man 
use his pen in such a workmanlike fashion, or acquire such a thoroughly 
technical knowledge of any subject upon which he gives an opinion. 
But his technique or specialism never overpowers him; he always 
trtinslates it into epigrams, sparkling generalisations or witty per- 
sonalities. As to his character, I do not understand it. He has been for 
twelve years a devoted propagandist — hammering away at the ordinary 
routine of Fabian executive work with as much persistence as Wallas 
or Sidney. He is an excellent friend, at least to men (“ a perfect house 
friend ”, I add two years later, “ self-sufficient, witty and tolerant, 
going his own way and yet adapting himself to your ways But 
beyond this I know nothing. I am inclined to think that he has a 
slight personality; agile, graceful, and even virile; but lacking in weight. 
Adored by many women, he is a born philanderer; a “ soul ” so to 
speak; disliking to be hampered either by passion or convention and, 
therefore, always tying himself up into knots which he has to cut 
before he is free for another adventure. Vain is he? A month ago I 
should have said that vanity was the bane of his nature. Now I am 
not so sure that the vanity itself is not part of the mise m sdne, whether, 
in fact, it is not part of,the character he imagines himself to be playing 
in the world’s comedy. 

A vegetarian, fastidious but unconventional in his clotltes; six feet 
in height witli a lithe, broad-chested figure and laughing blue eyes. 
Above all a brilliant talker and, therefore, a delightful companion. To 
me he has not yet a personality; he is a pleasant but somewhat in- 
congruous group of qualities. Some people would call him a cynic: he 
is really an idealist of the purest water. 

These two men with Sidney make up the Fabian Junta. Sidney is 
the organiser and gives most of the practical initiative, Graham Wallas 
represents morality and scrupulousness, Bernard Shaw gives the sparkle 
and flavour. Graham Wallas appeals to those of the upper and educated 
class who have good infentionsf no one can doubt his candour, dis- 
interestedness, enthusiasm and extreme moral refinement. Sidney in- 
sinuates ideas, arguments, programmes and organises the organisers. 
Bernard Shaw leads off the men of straw, men with light heads — the 
would-be revolutionaries; who are attracted by his wit, his daring 


JOHN BURNS 

onslaughts and amusing paradoxes. He has also a clientele among 
cynical journalists and men of the world. What the Junta needs to 
make it a great power are one or two personalities of weight-, men of 
wide experience and sagacity, able to play a long hand, and to master 
the movement. If John Burns would get over his incurable suspicion 
and if he could conquer his instinctive fear of comradeship, I know 
no man who could so complete the Fabian trio and make it thoroughly 
effective. If Burns would come in and give himself away to the other 
three as they do to each other — the Fabians could dominate the reform 
movement. Burns is, in some respects, the strongest man of the four, 
though utterly ill-equipped in his isolation for leadership. But that 
contingency, I fear, is past praying for. Collectivism will spread, but 
it will spread from no one centre. Those who sit down and think 
will, however, mould the form, though they will not set the pace or 
appear openly as the directors. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, October I’jth, 1893. — Spent a whole morning - '* 
with John Burns [I write when we are again in London] looking over 
the trade union documents he has. Our relationship with John Burns 
has never been a cordial one; it promises to be more so in future. I 
began with a prejudice against him. At the Newcastle Congress he ~ 
seemed an intriguer who suspected everyone of intrigue. His unfriendly 
attitude towards Tom Mann also displeased me. Possibly, he heard of 
my dislike, for he treated me with marked suspicion. Of Sidney he 
has, until lately, been jealous and was anxious that he should not 
come on the L.C.C. But, for one reason or another, this unfriendliness " 
has much lessened. On my part, I have long since seen reason to alter 
my opinion of him as a public man. His capacity, straightforwardness, 
power of reason, has given him a permanent position, which poor 
Mann forfeited by his light-headed change of front on all questions 
human and divine. Sidney has always had a high opinion of him. 

Burns, on his side, sees now that Sidney does not seek to play the 
rival Labour leader, and tliat his influence (Burns’) will not be 
diminished by Sidney being on the L.C.C. If Sidney went into 
Parliament, it might beirhat the old jealousy would revive. 

For jealousy and suspicion of ratber a mean kind are John Burns’ 
burning sin. A man of splendid physique, fine and strong intelligence, 
human sympathy, practical capacity, he is unfitted for a really great 
position by his utter inability to be a constant and loyal comrade. 

He stands absolutely alone. He is intensely. jealous of other Labour 
men, acutely suspicious of all middle-class sympathisers; whilst his 
hatred of Keir Hardie reaches the dimensions of mania. He is a born 
ruler of barbarians, impressing his followers with his will and deter- 
mination, not guiding them by reason. And yet he is essentially an 


39 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


intellectual man; one of his finest qualities is the constant testing of 
questions by intellectual methods rather than by sentimental con- 
siderations. It is pitiful to see this splendid man a prey to egotism of the 
most sordid kind; an egotism that seeks not so much to fill the world 
with its own doin^ as to diminish all other reputations in order that 
his own work may stand out in relief. . . . 

Royal Commission on Labour 

Meanwhile, Sidney had been helping trade union 
officials by drafting minority reports for royal commissions, 
nfitably for the much-advertised Royal Commission on 
Labour, about which I find the following caustic entry; 

Grosvenor Road, December 1893. — Royal Commission on 

Labour a gigantic fraud.J Made up of a little knot of dialecticians 
plus a carefully picked parcel of variegated Labour men, and the rest 
landlords or capitalists, pure and simple. The dialecticians — Gerald 
Balfour, Frederick Pollock, Alfred Marshall and Leonard Courtney 
— have had it their own way: they have puzzled the workmen 
with economic conundrums, balked inconvenient evidence by cross- 
questions, and delivered themselves of elaborate treatises on economics, 
history and philosophy to bewildered reporters — equally in the form 
of questions. Spent a somewhat painful day there, the first day of 
Sidney’s examination. He was irritated by the bad faitli of the Com- 
mission, and treated them to a little of their own game. His answers 
read well, and were ricjily deserved; but his manner was objectionable 
and pained me. Also the Charles Booths, Kate Courtney, Mrs. 
Dugdale and others of that set were listening to him and, as they 
agreed with the dialecticians, they showed their disapproval markedly. 
However, the next day the dear boy made a pretty apology and bore 
the cross-examination with perfect good humour. It ended in an 
amicable discussion between him and Gerald Balfour for an hour-and- 
a-half, on abstract economics, pleasant to listen to, but fit only for 
after-dinner talk, and not the sort of questions and answers to be 
delivered at the public expense. Utter waste of time to all concerned 
except that it woke us up to the harm the Commission might do if 
their report is taken in good faith. Hence, the inspired article in the 
London ’[Dailyl Ghronide writtipn by Massingham after a long talk 
with us. . . . 

’ For an analysis of the defects of the Royal Commission on Labour, as a method 
of investigation, see The Vdhre of the Labour Commission, XIX Century, July 1S94, 
by Beatrice Webb. 


40 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON LABOUR 


Grosvenor Road, Christmas Day, 1 893. — Another chicken hatched 
here last summer — Tom Mann’s minority report. . . , Sidney has 
spent quite three weeks on itj hut, though we think it of importance, 
we cannot help regarding it as a practical joke over which we chuckle 
with considerable satisfaction. Poor Labour Commission, having care- 
fully excluded any competent Socialists from its membership, having 
scouted the idea of appointing me as a humble assistant commissioner, 
will now find a detailed collectivist programme, blazoned about as 
the minority report of its Labour members! Dear old Leonard 
[Courtney], who told us with pompous superiority that they were all 
agreed: and that there was no prospect of any minority report — and 
we had it lying all the time on our table and had been putting the 
last touches to it that very morning. Certainly, persons with brains 
and independent means may have a rare good time. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, March \ 1 th, 1894. — Amusing afternoon. Mann 
came in in the morning to say that he was bringing Mawdsley, Austin 
and Abraham ^ to discuss the minority report at 5 o’clock — the excuse 

' The scene at the Royal Commission when the Labour men produced their 
report was extensively noticed in the press. 

“ This report was produced at yesterday’s sitting of the Commission [the West- 
minster Gasoette of Mai'ch 16, 1894, reports], and it created (says the Manchester 
Guardian) almost as much consternation as if a bomb had been exploded in West- 
minster Hall. The Duke of Devonshire was clearly unprepared for it. It altered the 
whole situation so far as his draft recommendations were concerned, and he suggested 
that the Commission should have time to consider the new report, for which purpose 
he then adjourned the Commission until after Easter. The minority report, it is 
reported, will propose among other matters a legal eight-hour day, with certain 
limitations, the amendment of the Factory Acts in the direction of the abolition of 
home work, the relief of the unemployed by empowering Boards of Guardians to 
acquire land and to till it by the labour of persons temporarily unemployed, the 
improving of the conditions under which female workers in certain trades areemployed, 
the improvement of the lot of the dock labourers and other casual workers, and the 
amelioration of the condition of the agricultural labourer. The same report will 
also express regret that tlie nationalisation of the land cannot be dealt with. These 
questions bristle with opportunities for controversy, and it will not be possible to 
conclude the work of the Commission by the end of the month. It is expected that 
five members of the Commission at least will subscribe to this report.” 

Apparently Mawdsley was jinder no delusion about the authorship of the report. 
When a member of the majority of the Royal Commission observed with a sneer that 
the signatories had obviously not written the report, Mawdsley answered sharply: 
“ Certainly not: nor has the Duke or any of you written the majority report. The 
only distinction between us and you is that you have paid your man, and we have 
been sharp enough to get it done without payment, and better done too.” On the 
close of the Commission, Mawdsley insisted on the three Labour members, Tom 
Mann, Michael Austin and himself, signing a formaljetter of thanks to S. W. for 
enabling them “ to submit a report which w^ believe will prove to be of great value 
to the cause of Labour in the future, also in some sense a guide to the industrial and 
political policy to be endorsed by the workers ”. 

Among the other documents drafted for the trade union officials by Sidney Webb 
was the minority report presented by Broadhurst as a member of the Royal Commis- 
sion on the Aged Poor, 1895. 


41 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


being that he had left it with Sidney to look over it from a legal point 
of view. We were both rather taken aback: thinking that Mawdsley, 
whose adhesion was most important, would not only refuse to support 
it but would, perhaps, join the rest of the Commission in trying to 
keep it out altogether. We could not imagine Mawdsley, a staunch 
Conservative, adopting it “ all of a heap ”. When Mawdsley turned 
up early to write his copy for the Factory Times, I was relieved to 
find that he was supremely disgruntled with the majority report and 
felt in a fix as to what he should do. Sidney took the matter in hand, 
and asked leave, as a lawyer, to give the others the gist of Mann’s 
report. Standing in front of the fire, he began reading out all the 
parts which would affect Mawdsley most, he making comments on it, 
Mann playing into his hand by suggesting more advanced statements, 
Sidney supporting Mawdsley in many of his criticisms. As he read on 
Mawdsley expressed his approval and was apparently delighted with 
the practical and detailed character of the suggestions. It ended by 
Mawdsley considering the report his own and taking it on himself to 
announce to the Commission that they were drawing up a minority 
report and would present it in a couple of days. The only alteration 
he insisted on was the omission of the word “ Socialism ”, though he 
agreed to the substitution of the words “ public administration, national 
and local ”. So much is in a word. . . . 


Industrial Democracy 

Our first book — The History of Trade Unionism — was 
I published in the spring of 1894, and we rewarded ourselves 
' for the two years’ work by a three weeks’ holiday in Italy. 

Grosvenor Road, April y^th, 1894. — It is the first complete break 
in our work that we have had since those happy days in Norway three 
years ago. Of course, I have had days and weeks of “ lazing ” from 
sheer incapacity to work — ^but I think I ha,ve used up all my energy 
during the last three years in work — I have never had sufficient over 
to enjoy anything but a somewhat depressed rest. The last weeks I 
have slacked off so that I may have plenty of spirits for our holy-day. 
We need to rid oureelves of the turmoil of the life here during the 
last three months, so as to set to our next bit of work with a clear head 
and clean conscience! *■ 

Grosvenor Road, May list, 1894.'^ — 'Back from a delightful three 
weeks’ holiday. Nine days in Venice, Charming rooms overlooking an 
Alma Tadcma court, with canal and bridge between us and it and old 


43 


VENICE 


marble gateway and well, whither Venetian women with their soft- 
coloured clothes went to draw water. Our days were spent on the 
water with an old gondolier whom we engaged by the day, and in 
St. Mark’s Piazza and in St. Mark’s itself — that vision of sumptuous 
beauty which it is a glory to recall. Very sweet hours of companion- 
ship — not thinking, but simply feeling the beauty around us — a 
true honeymoon of love and common enjoyment. Then to Como 
(Menaggio) where we met the Richard Stracheys — the General, an 
old experienced Indian administrator, and Mrs. Strachey, a strong, 
warm-hearted, enthusiastically literary woman. But, though our even- 
ings were spent with them, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee on 
the terrace, our days were spent together wandering over the hills afid 
in the lovely gardens of the Villas. Then a long journey back, and we 
are again in our little house, beautifully cleaned up by our two maids, 
and with Galton keenly anxious to be at the next volume. The holiday 
has been just what we needed; it has swept away all the cobwebs of 
secret minority reports, and all the tatters of the last bit of work, so 
that we can begin fresh and clear, a new subject. One day spent over 
our correspondence, and this morning I started off to plan the new 
volume. We propose to rough-hew the whole before either perfecting 
any part of it or completing our investigation; since we do not know 
exactly which points want clearing up. It will be a difficult and 
delicate piece of work, and need a great deal of hard hammering to 
weld it into anything like form. But we are encouraged — if, indeed, 
such a labour of love needed encouragement — ^by the appreciation of 
our labour and patience in the first volume. Perhaps I feel a bit of a 
humbug when the reviews talk of the “ endless labour ” entailed in 
the work — we have taken the work lightly, Sidney giving only half- 
time to it, and I the miserable few hours which I am capable of giving 
to any sort of work. But I must pull myself together and work harder 
at this volume — ^work hard and live simply. 

To us The History of Trade Unionism seemed little more 
than an historical introduction to the task we had set before 
us: the scientific analysis of the structure and function of 
British Trade Unions, in order to discover the tacit assump- 
tions and social implications underlying their activities ; and, 
what appeared to us of crucial importance, the relation of 
manual-working trade unionism to other forms of social 
organisation: notably, to profit-making enterprise, to 
political democracy, and to the consumers’ co-operative 
movement. The following entries from my diary, scattered 

43 ' . 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


over four years, reveal the intolerable toil of thought involved 
in working out a theory of trade unionism consistent with 
the facts we had observed and the hypotheses we believed 
we had verified. 

Grosvenor Road, July loth, 1894. — Not getting on with our book. 
It is a horrid grind, this analysis — one sentence is exactly like another, 
the same words, the same construction — no relief in narrative. And 
then the facts often do not admit of clear and definite classification — 
they are not grouped in distinct and separate classes, they are mixed up 
together in a fine tangle, and any attempt to place them in nice little 
nTaps seems purely artificial. No doubt the sequence involved in history 
writing is as artificial as are the groups Involved in classification (how 
silly it is to suppose that facts ever tell their own story — it is all a 
matter of arranging them so that they may tell something — and the 
arrangement is purely a subjective process). I sometimes despair of 
getting on with the book — I feel horribly vexed with myself for 
loitering and idling as I do morning after morningj looking on while 
poor Sidney drudges along. London, too, is beginning to get on my 
nerves, with the heat and the continual noise and movement and the 
distraction of seeing one person and another. When we get to the 
country, it may be better: we must make an effort. 

Borough Farm, Surrey, July i^th, 1894. — Overlooking a little 
country lane with heather-covered moorland on one side and a thicket 
of young trees behind, stands the farm-house we have taken for three 
months. The farmer and his wife, hard-headed, somewhat grasping 
folk, who make us pay more than London prices for all their produce, 
and whom I rather suspect of taking toll on our groceries ! and a grim 
old labourer who serves them and does menial offices for us, and whom 
we meet in the late evening with a coat puffed out with concealed 
rabbits, are our co-occupants of the substantial red-brick old-fashioned 
house. Tho’ only one hour and a few minutes by rail from London, 
it is too remote for postal delivery and we ..have to fetch our letters 
some i-| miles from a village! But this and other drawbacks are out- 
weighed by the exceeding charm of the country. Heather-grown moor- 
land studded with firs and intermixed with broad expanses of wooded 
pasture, occasionally a grove of glorious forest trees with thorn and 
holly bush nestling under — ^all open and free to wander, mile after 
mile, without a single fence, ditCh or “ trespass board ”. Here we shall 
be for three months resting, reading and writing as hard as we can at 
our book. These first ten days, Sidney has been working at his paper 
for the British Association, on The Heresies of the L.C.C., and 
I have been somewhat despairingly spending my mornings over the 


ANALYSIS OF TRADE UNIONISM 


chapter on “ Apprenticeship But he has been up and down to 
London, and even I had to rush up to two committees.. 

Borough Farm^ Surrey, August loth, 1894. — Either the Surrey 
climate is enervating, or I am no good at this analytical deductive 
work which goes to make up our second volume. Rightly or wrongly, 
I we are writing our analysis of facts before we have completed our 
finvestigation, with a view of concentrating our attention, when we 
jbegin to investigate, exactly on those points which need clearing up 
' and which we are certain to use. Consequently, we are perpetually 
working without sufEcient or adequate material: our descriptive 
analysis lacks definiteness; the lines of our argument become shakji; 
each division, as we turn it out, seems unsatisfactory. Then our work 
suffers from being an almost unconscious attempt to unite three things: 
(i) a descriptive analysis of modern trade unionism with as much 
analytical history of separate trade unions as will light up the statistical 
account and show the direction of growth as well as the present 
structure; (2) a criticism of trade unions (for the good of the 
unionists!); (3) an apology for, or defence of trade unions (for the 
enlightenment of the middle-class and economists). These three objects 
do not amalgamate well. It spoils the descriptive analysis, which ought 
to be absolutely cold, for authors or readers to feel that these facts will 
.presently be used to support a thesis. But this is not all. When we 
come to the thesis we find the facts, tho’ they can be used as illustra- 
tions, are not much good as the basis of our structure — they are only 
the ornament. The whole structure of our argument turns out to be 
deductive in form, with psychological hypotheses or inductions used as 
its material. So the facts we have laboriously derailed seem somewhat 
de trap. Whether, that being so, we ought not to begin with the 
theory of trade unionism, instead of demonstrating the need for it, 
or whether we ought not to begin with the descriptive side — the facts — 
and then deal with the theory as a second division? 

October %th, 1894. Borough Farm . — It is some years since I have 
watched summer turn into autumn and felt the first breath of winter 
creeping over the country. This year the summer left us early, the 
sky closing over with cold grey clouds, only now and again they 
break, and the sun slants out and lights up the sombre blues and 
browns of the landscape. Perhaps, it is the rich tones of the heath and 
bracken which recall some of those lowly Rusiand [my father’s house 
in Westmorland] autumns; for, as I stand and watch the clouds drifting 
across the moor and try to fathom the glorious depths of colour of 
land and sky, memories of old days jostle each other and seem to take 
me back to the thoughts and feelings and daily life of struggling girl- 

. 45 - 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


hood — the inevitable melancholy of the autumn months, the brooding 
over books, the long walks with Father, afternoon tea in the little hall 
at Rusland after a trudge in the mist. Mother’s bright welcome to 
Father, lier keen relish of her cup of tea before she went to her 
boudoir to study her grammars, or settled herself down to a talk with 
Father over his business affairs and the family prospects — all the strange 
medley of good and evil one lived through as a girl. But, in chewing 
the cud of those old memories, I am impressed, not with the past-ness 
of the old life but with the perfect continuity of the present and the 
past; these autumn months of years ago were always devoted to study, 
were always stimulated by a restless desire to conquer new strands of 
thought. After nearly twenty years of adult life, I am still living the 
same daily life, still using my whole energy in unravelling ideas and 
attempting to clear issues — the practical affairs which occupy most 
people’s naiddle life are no more now than they were then — at least, 
not during our three months’ holiday. There is an inexpressible delight 
in this consciousness of continuity, in feeling that those hours of lonely 
and painful study are linked on to the settled occupation — perhaps one 
might almost say the settled profession — of a productive brain-worker. 
If one could only have foreseen that this daily intellectual effort would 
one day be set in a frame of loving companionship and constant sym- 
pathy, one would have been less restless and morbidly self-conscious. 

Of course, one gets discouraged at one’s incapacity as of old. Each 
chapter of this book needs a certain amount of hard and vigorous 
thinking, and I feel dispirited when I have to knock off work an hour 
after I have begun, or when I have to lay by for a whole day. But it is 
vastly different working after one has some assurance of the Worth of 
one’s work and toiling, day after day, not knowing whether one has 
special capacity or not. And then what light love brings to the daily 
task; it turns that black despair of the over-strained brain- worker into 
calm quiescence. When first I was married, I feared- that my happiness 
would dull my energies and make me intellectually dependent. I no 
longer feel that; the old fervour for work has returned without the 
old restlessness. Of course, my life in London, with its other claims, 
leaves me with less physical energy — but this, I think, is almost 
counterbalanced by the absence of any waste through mental misery. 
'On the whole, then, I would advise the brain-working woman to 
Ijnarry — if only she can find her Sidney! 

Borough Farm, October iiffi, 1894. — , . For all that, I leave 
this quaint little home with regret. The last months I have pulled 
myself together and done some hard thinking. We have roughed out 
four or five chapters of our book. I am beginning to see that, if we 
can^only put enough work into .it, this volume will be far more 
46 


LONDON ELECTIONS 


instructive than the History — a far bigger achievement. I dread the 
dullness that comes over me in London, the sheer incapacity to grapple 
with a hard bit of complicated analysis. However, I must save myself 
as much as I can for the book — I can only do my best. And I must, 
in order to be able to work, resolutely refuse to worry, otherwise I 
shall not do my share of the labour and shall be a source of fatigue 
and not of rest to Sidney. The next six months — with the vestry and 
L.C.C. elections added on to all the administrative business — seems 
likely to be somewhat trying for my Boy. 

The last months of 1894 were largely taken up by the 
Westminster vestry elections, whilst bur joint energies i« 
the two first months of 1895 were completely absorbed in 
the London County Council election; all activities which 
will be described in the following chapter. Indeed, I gather 
from my diary that it was not until the August recess of 
1895 that we disentangled ourselves from our political 
environment and returned to our special task of investigat- 
ing the trade union movement. 

^ The Jrgoed, Jugust %th, 1895. — ■! wonder whether other brain- 
workers make as many futile starts as we do. Here I have been pain- 
fully labouring to fashion a first chapter on the “ Objects of Trade 
Unionism ” and have wasted hours of Sidney’s time in executing it and 
now the idea turns out not good enough — too thin and insignificant. 
It is hard to foretell the worth of an idea until you have expressed it 
fully with all its attendant facts in all their ramifisations. After spending 
lours, if not days, on it, you find either that it is not true or absurdly 
nsignificant and banal.' 4 t .is this process, experimenting in working 
5ut ideas, that entails the length of time spent on analysis as compared 
with history. With history,. the threads are supplied by the chrono- 
ogical order — you can weave these threads into any pattern; bring 
me of them to the surface and then another. But with analysis of 

t acts, the threads are hypotheses: to be tested in strength and con- 
istency before you dare weave them into conclusions and illustrate 
hem with facts. . . . 

Grosvemr Road, Sept. C)th, 1 895, — At Cardiff [Trades Union Con- 
gress] we were in the usual whirl of talk. The hotel we were in was 
actually attached to the hall so that it was tSe centre where all the 
delegates congregated — especially as there were three entertainers 
quartered there — Lady Dilke * with her attendant ladies — Gertrude 

■ Representing the Woinen’,s Trade Union League, of -which Lady Dilke was 
then president, and her niece. Miss T uckwell, honorary secretary. (Ed.) ^ 

47. ■ 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 

Tuckwell, Mary Abraham (factory inspector). Sir Hickman Bacon 
and ourselves. Lady Dilke entertained on a large, I might almost 
say gross scale — her young women asking every trade union official 
they came across to champagne lunches and elaborate dinners. The 
dear good baronet, with his doglike devotion to Sidney, provided us 
with a private sitting-room, where we had our trade unionists and 
he had the I.L.P. — we going in for little confidential lunches and 
suppers for the purpose of extracting information and insinuating use- 
ful suggestions. But all this is the background. The drama was fought 
out in the hall on the second day. The minority of the parliamentary 
committee inspired by Broadhurst, and led by J. Havelock Wilson, 
led the attack on the new “ standing orders ”. There was no defence — > 
delegate after delegate got up and denounced the action of the parlia- 
mentary committee. No defence except bad language and abusive 
epithets from John Burns. But, when it came to the vote, the cotton 
and coal men showed their cards silently and with that vote collared 
the Congress and its organisation for their own purposes. 

Mawdsley comes out now as the hero of the coup d'itat.^ Poor 
Burns has allowed himself to be used as the tool, his egregious vanity, 
virulent hatred of Keir Hardie and Tom Mann, suspicion of everyone 
else, prompting him to destroy the representative character of the 
Congress, to oust himself in order to oust certain other men, leaving 
Mawdsley and Cowey (Miners’ Federation) in possession of the whole 
political influence of trade unions. Whether these men make anything 
of their power depends on whether the alliance stands good and 
whether Mawdsley shows more statesmanship than his predecessors. 
We had Mawdsley to dinner after the vote had been taken. Without 
disguising our opinion of the coup d'Hat we suggested to him that he 
might make tiie parliamentary committee a much more efficient instru- 
ment and that we should be glad to help. He rose to the suggestion, 
and I am not at all certain whether tliis parliamentary committee will 
not prove much more amenable to our influence than its predecessors. 
Mawdsley is a cool-headed man, quite aware of his own deficiencies 
and far too cynical to be suspicious. Whether or not we use Mawdsley, 
we may rest assured that he will use us: which after all is all we desire. 
Poor Burns, to have ousted Keir Hardie from the Congress and let in 
Sidney Webb to the parliamentary committee! Brought home a good 
deal of material. Must now turn to our book again. . . . 

Now it so happens that this arbitrary alteration, by the 
parliamentary committee, without the consent of Congress, 
of the “ standing orders ” determining its constitution, re- 

> Seep. 49. 

48 


TRADES UNION CONGRESS 


suited in the domination of the “ block vote ” not only over 
the general policy of the trade union movement, but also, 
eventually, over that of the British Labour Party destined 
to become, from 1918 onwards, alternately His Majesty’s 
Opposition and His Majesty’s Government. Hence, I turn 
back the pages of my MS. diary to an entry, dated January 
15, 1895, describing how this coup d’etat came about. 

Grosvenor Road, yanuary 15th, 1895. — Meanwhile, there is an 
intrigue going on inside the P.C. which may affect the future of 
trade unionism, and which has already roused a storm in that littie 
world. This much can be gathered from the newspapers. “ Standing 
orders ” have been issued to the trade unions which the parliamentary 
comrnittee have declared shall govern the next Congress. Shortly 
stated, these orders amount to this; trades councils are to be excluded: 
the voting is to be on the plan of the Miners’ Federation — the delegates 
of each trade, however few or numerous, are to have voting power 
according to the numerical strength of their society; one vote for every 
1000 members; and, lastly, no man is to be a delegate who is not 
working at his trade, or serving as the salaried official of his union. 
Of course, this is a revolution in the constitution of Congress. These 
“orders” of the P.C. have been backed up by the Daily Chronicle 
and the Factory Times, denounced by the Clarion and the Labour 
Leader. So far as one can judge, they would mean that Congress 
would consist of a few salaried officials, each of whom would carry 
in his pocket the proxy of his whole trade. 

It was on this question that Broadhurst came to consult us. He 
spent the first hour in giving us, with graphic but somewhat lengthy 
detail, the inner history of this coup d'Stat. How there had been a 
vague instruction by Congress to the parliamentary committee to con- 
sider all the resolutions with which Congress could not deal, how 
among these there appeared some minute alteration of “standing 
orders ”, how Burns had got a sub-committee of five (himself. Woods, 
Mawdsley, Holmes and Jack) appointed to see what could be done, 
how at the November meeting of the P.C. these new “ standing 
orders ” were placed before the committee suddenly, without any 
notice, for their approval. So far Burns had had it all his own way. 
Broadhurst immediately rallied the other side^nd fought the question 
for three days. Six voted for, six against: Holmes gave his casting vote 
in favour of “ revolution ”. So fkr Burns had gained a hazardous 
victory; but relied on keeping back these “orders” until a month before 
Congress. Broadhurst waited till Burns and Holmes were gone to 
America, and having a majority at the P.C. insisted on ci reuniting 


49 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 
the “ standing orders ” to all trade unions. “ I wanted to issue a circular 
explaining their full nature, but that little vain imp Tillett would not 
stick to me. But I have taken care to let it be widely known that 
these ‘orders’ would exclude from Congress not only myself, but Keir 
Hardie, Tom Mann and Hammill; and would practically exclude 
from any say, not only the trades councils, but all the small trades of 
the country. Now Mr. Webb, I have told you the tale, let me know 
your frank opinion as to the orders in themselves? ” 

Then we set to, and discussed the whole constitution of Congress. 
Broadhurst had evidently come, not only to get Sidney’s advice, but 
to get him to draft alternative “ standing orders ” to be submitted to 
Congress. It is going to be a duel between Burns and Broadhurst. 
Burns has acted in a very unwise if not a mean way. Seeing he cannot 
control the present Congress, and cannot work the parliamentary 
committee, he has decided to reduce both to the smallest dimensions, 
or (as he would say) to save them from becoming the instruments of 
“ Labour politicians ” and “ agitators ”. Of course, there is a good 
deal to be said against the present constitution of Congress; and, on 
the face of it, one of the “ orders ” is a self-denying ordinance on 
Burns’s part, since he would be technically excluded. But, as Sidney 
says, it was a curious fact that the “ self-denying ordinance ” known 
to history did not exclude Cromwell who proposed it. And so with 
Burns. He is not technically a T.U. official; but, since he already 
receives ,^ioo from the A.S.E., a stroke of the pen would make him 
one; whilst there is not the slightest chance of Broadhurst, Mann, 
Keir Hardie or Hammill getting a salary from the unions. That being 
the case, Sidney virtually agreed to Broadhurst’s request to draw up 
suggestions for his private use. . . . 

One cannot help admiring also the shrewdness of his [Broadhurst’sJ 
attitude towards us. He has read our book with minute care — he has 
swallowed our very severe criticism of his conduct of the P.C. between 
1880-9 with perfect good temper. The fact that our account dis- 
credits him, and elevates Burns, has not apparently affected his deter- 
mination to make full use of us. He is lazy, not quick in drafting, with 
no intellectual skilfulness; he realises that without some middle-class 
help he can do nothing — so finding no one he can trust more than us 
he unreservedly places himself in our hands and so doing places us in a 
very delicate position. , 

For Burns, though unscrupulous, incurably suspicious, and rather 
mean in his methods, has some splendid moral and intellectual qualities. 
So long as he does not, fear any diminution of his personal prestige, 
his judgement is very fine— far more warmth, insight and intelligence 
than, Broadhurst. We do not wish to detract from his influence. On 


50 


POLITICAL ASPECTS OF TRADE UNIONISM 


nearly all questions he is instinctively on the right side. He honestly 
tries to think out problems. But, for the last year, it has been ap- 
parent that on all questions bearing on the trade union movement 
his intelligence and conscience have been completely paralyzed by a 
dominant terror that some other Labour leader will eclipse him by 
means of it. It looks as if he were deliberately trying to diminish the 
political force of the trade unions as great corporations. Of course, 
it would be possible to hold that tliat was a good thing to do from the 
point of view of the common weal — that associations of producers 
ought not to concern themselves with general politics. But that is not 
our view, more especially not Sidney’s, whose whole political policy 
has been to stimulate this activity. It looks as if we should have to 
choose between backing Burns and backing the trade union world. 
He will not in any way consult us, or explain his meaning; he is never 
open with us; in spite of our genuine desire to work with him both on 
London and Labour questions, he always shows an undercurrent of 
jealousy and suspicion. For all these reasons, it will be almost im- 
possible for us to refuse Broadhurst’s appeal to help him to carry out 
our views. The hurry-scurry of politics and Broadhurst’s discretion 
may save us from coming directly across Burns, but it will be rather 
of the nature of egg-dancing if we succeed in preventing him mischief- 
making without incurring his anger. ... 

Suffolk, September 1 6ih, 1 896. — Last day of our stay in the Suffolk 
rectory. For the fii-st three weeks I was seedy — mooned and dreamed 
my life away, chatting with our visitors, or sitting in the little study 
watching Sidney work on with our chapter on “ Apprenticeship ”, or 
straining after the party on my bicycle — feeling all the time somewhat 
miserable and woe-begone. The last four weeks we have worked well 
together, and have really got within sight of the end of our book and 
the completion of our theory. Now that we have finished the elaborate 
technical analysis of each set of regulations — our own theory of trade 
unionism is emerging. It is exciting, this clearing-up of one’s thought 
after two years of patient plodding. And, as far as we can tell, the 
ideas we are evolving seem to be fruitful and likely to breed others. 
Out of our study of trade unionism we are developing a new view of 
democracy and, I think, quite an original set of economic and political 
hypotheses. For the first time since we began this book I am feeling 
intellectually keen and absorbed in mjf work, ... 

The Jrgoed, January 18//1, 1897. — . . . The hill enveloped in 
cold mist. But it has been a splendid time for work: have written the 
best part of two chapters. Have worked both together and apart, 
Sidney reading through the thirty volumes we brought with us on 

' ■ 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 

abstract economics and writing, with occasional suggestions from me, 
the chapter on the “ wage fund ”, whilst I spent hours scheming the 
chapter giving our synthesis of the “ higgling of the market Then he 
and I would write it out clearly, he criticising my ideas; sometimes 
we would get at cross purposes, but our cross purposes would always 
end in a shower of kisses. I doubt whether two persons could stand 
the stress and strain of this long drawn-out work, this joint struggle 
with ideas, a perpetual hammering at each other’s minds, if it were 
not for the equally perpetual “ honeymoon ” of our life together. 
These three weeks, with the peaceful grey days and long evenings, 
the wanderings over the moorland and up and down dale, the cosy 
evenings by the log fire, he reading Brand and Peer Gynt to me, 
have been a delicious holy-day — z. relief from the noise, bustle and 
news of London. And, as if to reward us for being so happy en- 
shrouded in cold mist, the sun, the last three days, has come out 
gloriously shining in red splendour over the whitened landscape; 
followed at sunset by an equally glorious moon lighting up in an 
absolutely still air the long lines of highland, their night’s shroud of 
white mist creeping stealthily up from the village. I am so well and 
blessedly happy. Again those morbid troublings of last autumn seem 
to me amazing! 

Looking back on the year, I am satisfied with our work. We are 
nearly through with our book, three months more grind of our little 
minds, and we shall have turned out all that they can yield on this 
subject. Of course, the worth of our work will be only temporary; all 
our hypotheses will be either truisms or fallacies in a generation’s time. 
Still, I think, we shall, have left a solid substratum of fact for others 
to reason on. Our descriptive analysis of special facts is, I believe, the 
best part of our work and likely to be most permanent. . . . 

Dorking, May 1st, 1897.- — I have been especially vigorous, com- 
pletely absorbed in thinking out the last chapter of our book. To me 
the unravelling of a consistent theory of industrial regulation (in the 
chapter on “ Economic Characteristics of Tr^de Unionism ”} has been 
extremely exciting. Now that we have "found our theory, every 
previous part of our analysis seems to fit in perfectly, and facts, which 
before puzzled us, range themselves in their places as if “ by nature ”, 
We alternate between thinking that the work will be as great, in its 
effect on political and economic thought, as Adam Smith’s Wealth of 
Nations, to wondering whether the whole of it is not an elaborate 
figment of our imagination. Anyway, the elaborate analysis of the 
facts contained in the second part of the work, an analysis which we 
made by pondering over the facts and trying to get an exhaustive 
description of what actually exists, roust be useful; for it was not until 

; 5a- 



ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF TRADE UNIONISM 


the whole diagnosis was complete that we began to see clearly the 
principles which seemed to spring from it. The companionship over 
the book in these latter parts has been delightful; the constant testing 
of the thought by the two minds, the act of combined thinking in which 
the experience and the hypotheses of the two intellects becomes in- 
extricably mingled, so that we are both unconscious of what we have 
each of us contributed, has been extraordinarily stimulating. But I 
doubt whether the English reading public will understand or be im- 
pressed; if there is to be a succis d'estime, that appreciation will come 
from Germany.! The background of our lives — the pleasant friend- 
ships, the beautiful spring, with all its sweet sounds, sights and scents, 
and the pretty house and garden, the long hours of leisure — is luxurious 
almost to a fault. One broods at times over the question whether our 
work is worth all the happiness and well-being we are extracting from 
the life of the community, and at times one feels uneasy lest we are 
taking more than our share. Happily, the supreme luxury of love and 
close comradeship does not abstract from other people’s chances of 
enjoyment. Our life at present is like the early summer, growth and 
delight in growing, love and the delight in loving. We are getting 
middle-aged, and yet we feel young in our intellectual life, always 
on the threshold of new discovery, and almost childish in our revelling 
in each other’s adoration and tenderness. How full and brimming over 
with happiness human life can be. How could this happiness become 
universal or nearly universal — that is the problem. . . . 

The Argoed, August ^’Jth, 1897. — The firet fortnight or three 
weeks Sidney and I struggled painfully with re-writing the “ Economic 
Characteristics ” — the stifFest chapter in the whole work — both of us 
feeling that we had “ bitten off more than we could chew ” in our 
Theory of Trade Unionism. At last we got into such a hopeless state of 
continuous argument that it was clear that we were wasting energy. 
So he agreed to go on by himself, whilst I should begin to plan out 
the last chapter. So he is grappling with it alone, I think, successfully. 
He is stronger-brained than I am, and can carry more things in his 
mind at once; I was gettmg hopelessly befogged with utter weariness. 
We are working really too hard to enjoy it: we are bent on getting 
the book done with and out with autumn; and this last chapter has 
proved far more complicated than we thought. The weather is one 
continual south-west rain storm which adds a touch of gloom to our 
overstrain. Bernard Shaw, too, is working cBntinuously revising his 
plays. . . . We are a very middle-aged party this autumn — inclined to 
drudge at our work. For all that, Sidney and I are peacefully happy. 

’ Through the accident of a compositors’ strike in the autumn of 1897, Industrial 
Democracy appeared in German a month before it was published in English. 

53 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


Now tliat I feel the crucial chapter is really getting on, I can sit and 
calmly think out the last chapter and the preface. . . . 

The Argoed, Sept. lOth, 1897. — The last day at the Argoed! 
Turned out to make room for a tenant and transplanting ourselves 
“ over the way ” to “ Moorcroft ” for the remainder of the vacation. 
Spent another ten days hammering away together at the “ Economic 
Characteristics Sidney got over the kink, but his stuff was rough hewn 
and had to be polished up. Now, at last, we are sending tlie last instal- 
ment of the chapter to the printer. It has been by far the hardest bit 
of reasoning that I have ever attempted and it remains to be seen 
how much of it stands against hostile criticism. What will be said is 
tRat we have seized on certain characteristics of the “ common rule ” 
and magnified them out of all proportion to others that we have not 
even so much as mentioned. That is to some extent true. Our chapter 
is really “ an analysis of certain characteristics of the common rule ”. 
But then these are exactly the characteristics which have been hitherto 
completely overlooked and, therefore, want to be given all the promin- 
ence of isolated treatment. Otlier investigators will come along and 
set our little discoveries (if discoveries they prove to be) in their 
proper place. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, December 10th, 1897. — . . . Also, the engineers’ 
lock-out — Sidney constantly drafting letters and conditions, I some- 
times egging him on. A wretched business! It is only those who know 
the rotten constitution of the A.S.E., and their guerilla policy, who 
realise the badness of the whole business, the hold that employers 
have over the public opinion of all classes in the general dislike of the 
A.S.E. This morning Ve drafted letters to the Daily Chronicle and the 
Manchester Guardian, and wrote private letters to the leading officials 
of the great unions begging them to take the matter up on the ground 
that collective bargaining is attacked. We may be on the eve of a big 
convulsion — z. Conservative Government is always favourable to the 
growtli of revolutionary feelings — ^and for the last five years working- 
class opinion has been lying dormant. Meanwhile, our portentous 
book is still in the press, will appear on January 4th. We must prepare 
ourselves for disappointment, or rather we must try not to think of 
success or failure, simply feel that we have done our level best and 
there it is — to be taken or left. Anyway, we have learnt enormously 
from our six years’ inv^tigation, and the life has been a happy one — 
full of love and interest. What more can we ask for? ... 

Grosvenor Road, December le^th, 1897. — Asquith called here this 
morning and spent half-an-hour discussing the engineering dispute. 
He has for the last few years been cold to the Labour movement, 

■■■ ■■■ .54 ■ 


engineers’ lockout 

and unfriendly to us, so his anxiety to be informed was an interesting 
sign of the times. He is a shrewd able lawyer: coarse-grained and 
unimaginative, but sensitive like all politicians to the changes in the 
political atmosphere. Sidney explained the engineers’ contention and 
also their weakness, and coached him up on the technical side of the 
question; gave him our chapter on the “ Standard Rate ”. We did our 
best: we shall see whether it bears fruit in his speech at Stockport. ... 

A month later I give the outcome of the engineers’ 
lock-out : 

Grosvenor Road, January 1898. — Sidney and I have spent much 
thought and time on the engineers’ dispute, but all to no purpose. 
No sooner had we worked up public opinion against the original terms 
of the employers than the officials of the A.S.E. gave us all completely 
away by offering to accept practically the same terms if the employers 
gave 51 hours. The employers, of course, refuse the 51 hours, but 
point triumphantly to the men’s proposal whenever it is suggested 
that these terms are inconsistent with the continuance of trade 
unionism. It is of no avail that the members reject these terms by 
overwhelming majority: public opinion, only too glad to escape from 
censuring capitalists, backs up the employers’ logic. After the event 
Barnes comes and consults us — but it is useless advising when advice 
is not understood. This set of officials are hopelessly incompetent — 
feather-headed I.L.P. or obscurant old-fashioned unionists of the Allan 
type ' — a type all right in its day but now bygone in usefulness. So the 
weary business drags on, and all friends stand aloof feeling that it is 
useless to move in any direction since the officials of the A.S.E. may 
drift in the other. The employers have, as regards immediate victory, 
played their cards with remarkable astuteness. But they are over- 
reaching themselves. Their victory, even if they attain their end of 
making the union agree as a corporation to their terms, will be a 
mere paper victory. It is childish to expect good results from a consent 
wrung from thousands of men by threats of absolute starvation. The 
best they can look for is'that, under the stress and strain, the A.S.E. 
will go to pieces — discontented classes and districts breaking away and 
repudiating the society, its agreements and its debts. But that will be 
no advantage. Instead of one union to deal with, they will have a 
dozen irresponsible, semi-secret bodies fighting in guerilla wherever 
and whenever they get a chance. And they forget the polling booth ! . . . 

' William Allan, General Secretary of the A.S.E., 1851-74; typical of the “ Old 
Unionist ” official. An administrator of friendly benefits rather than a militant 
trade unionist. Consequently uninfluential in trade union politics. See Bio- 
graphical Index and Hittory of Trade Unionism, by S. and B. Webb, p. 458. (Ed.) 

55 . . • 


STUDIES IN BRITISH TRADE UNIONISM 


Here is the final entry, recording our partnership in the 
study of British Trade Unionism: the reader will forgive its 
naive self-complacency. 

Grosvenor Road, January iith, 1898. — Our big book has had a 
brilliant I'eception. I'he Times gave us two columns on the day of 
publication; the Standard an abusive leader; the Daily Chronicle, the 
Daily News, and half-a-dozen big provincials were all properly en- 
thusiastic. Other papers followed suit and produced their reviews the 
next day: the weeklies treated us quite handsomely. Altogether a small 
triumph in its way. The scientific character of the work is recognised, 
though of course the critics chaff us for our “ pompous phraseology ”. 
It is a big plant on the public: a new method and a new theory! 



CHAPTER II 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY 
ADMINISTRATION 
1892-1898 

At this point in the narrative I turn aside from the narrow 
track of social investigation, which we pursued together, 
the direction determined by ourselves, to the broad and 
crowded highway of municipal administration. If the fore- 
going chapter recalls the habitual morning’s work from 
1892 to 1898, the following pages account for the Other 
One’s afternoons. And here I fall from the status of equal 
partnership to that of a humble servitor of my lord, with the 
added zest of being ah observer and recorder of his doings. 
But alas! this essay in biography will not be accepted as 
impartial so I give the portrait by the well-known editor of 
the 'Pall 'Mall Gazette of Sidney Webb as he first appeared 
at the L.C.C. election of 1892 before the footlights of 
municipal democracy. 

Mr. Sidney Webb is a very remarkable man, much more remarkable 
than anybody thinks, excepting himself. Since l^lr. Chamberlain arose 
in Birmingham there has been no man so like him as Mr. Sidney 
Webb, who aspires to be Mr. Chamberlain of London — only more 
so.‘ For to all the energy and perseverance aitd municipal spirit of 
Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Sidney Webb adds a great literary gift and a 
philosophic conception of social progress to which Mr. Chamberlain 
can lay no claim. He is a socialist; but he is no utopian dreamer, he 
is a man crammed with Tacts. He is no fanatic, but a wily, shrewd, 

> The Elector's Guide, p. 50. Edited by W. T. Stead. Beyond the fact that S. W. 
endorsed and developed Chamberlain’s doctrine of “ high rates and a healthy city ", 
I see no likeness in character, opinion or circumstances, of the social investigator and 
Fabian permeator to the outstanding politician, orator and imperialist statesman of 
the last quarter of the nineteenth century. There is, however, a superficial coinci- 
dence in political career. Alike, they entered jhe Cabi*et for the first time without 
previous subordinate office, as President of the Board of Trade, and alike they 
retired from the Cabinet, when Secretary of State for the Colonies; the significant 
distinction being that S. W. entered the Cabinet at about the same age at which 
Joseph Chamberlain retired from it, when the great man became the propagandist 
of a new fiscal policy. 


57 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 

adroit wirepuller, whose hand is felt in a great many quarters where 
it is not seen. The next three years will be a test as to whether he is 
as capable in taking part in a public body as he has shown himself 
to be in writing pamphlets, inspiring editors, and in general wire- 
pulling. ... At present there is some doubt as to whether he is not the 
most dangerous candidate in the field for the cause which he has at 
heart. His contributions to the Fabian Society and the Star newspaper, 
and his interesting book on The London Programme, are so many red 
rags to the Conservative bull; and there is no doubt that if Mr. Sidney 
Webb’s programme could be fathered upon every progressive candidate 
in the constituencies, the moderates would sweep London. Mr. Webb 
is not a candidate for to-day, he is one for the day after to-morrow, 
fiut, for that very reason, it is urgently to be desired that he sliould 
be elected to the County Council without more ado. There is nothing 
like putting such a man in harness to take the nonsense out of him, 
and to make him understand the wisdom of the old adage, festina 
lente. . . . 

The London County Council 

The establishment of an elected governing body for the 
metropolis in the guise of a county council was incidental 
to the scheme of reform of county government throughout 
England and Wales, which the President of the Local 
Government Board (Ritchie) passed into law as the Local 
Government Act of 1888. For the administration of the 
justices of the peace in quarter sessions, there was substituted 
administration by" a directly elected county council. In 
the metropolis, comprising, besides the ancient corporation 
of the City of London, parts of the counties of Middlesex, 
Surrey, Essex and Kent, the indirectly elected Metro- 
politan Board of Works, representing the congeries of 
vestries and district boards througho.ut London, had been 
established thirty years earlier (1855).' I” 1888, Mr. 

' The establishment in 18550! the Metropolitan Board of Works by Sir Benjamin 
Hall (Chief Commissioner of Works in the then Whig Ministry) may be ascribed to 
the pressing necessity for a new Main Drainage authority to prevent the Thames 
becoming a common sewer, a task in which the Metropolitan Commissioners of 
Sewers, appointed by the (Sovernm^t in 1848, had lamentably failed. The new 
Board was, on the whole, an efficient body, largely directed by a salaried chairman 
(Sir J. McGarel Hogg) who was imposed on it by the Government. Besides a 
successful main drainage scheme which took nearly twenty years to complete the 
Board has to its credit, during its thirty years’ life, the construction of the Thames 
Embankment; the systematic administrauon of the London Building Act which had 

58 


METROPOLITAN BOARD OF WORKS 


Ritchie saw no practicable alternative to the definite excision 
of these parts of four counties from the remainder of their 
areas, and the transformation of the indirectly elected Metro- 
politan Board of Works into a directly elected county 
council, corresponding to those which elsewhere superseded 
the justices in quarter sessions. This transformation, revolu- 
tionary as it seemed to the Conservative Party, was the more 
readily accepted because the Metropolitan Board of Works 
had recently been besmirched and discredited by the ex- 
posure of certain exceptional cases of graft in which one 
or two of its members, in collusion with one or two of its 
principal officials, had been implicated. This exposure led 
to a revulsion of feeling, which co-operated with the desire 
to give London a municipal government worthy of its pre- 
eminence, induced a number of distinguished men of phil- 
anthropy and goodwill to come forward as candidates for 
the new body. So outstanding a personality as Lord Rosebery 
agreed to stand for the City, with a view to assuming the 
chairmanship. 

The first election, in January 1889, was, from the stand- 
point of the experienced politician, an unorganised scramble. 
Neither the Liberal nor the Conservative Party used the 
party electoral machinery. Candidates spontaneously offered 
themselves to the electors, mainly as advocates of “ good 
government There were no deliberately formulated party 

been passed in 1855; the organisation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade after i866j 
the clearance of large areas of the worst slums, various great street improvements, 
and many minor services. In its last years, the Board’s record was stained by the 
cases of graft mentioned above, which were investigated by a Royal Commission. 
It is only fair to say that these were shown to have been quite exceptional, and that 
most of the Board’s administration was not only honest but also fairly well organised. 

< Elizabeth Haldane in From One Century to Another, 1937, describes the rise of the 
Progressive Party in London administration: “ The development of the social 
services was seen in the new London County Council, with its rather advanced 
programme. There were at least a majority of 'Progressives ’ and John Burns advo- 
cated what he called ' Practicable Socialism ’ which made a good cry, so that 
socialism thus became something less to be feared than it had been so far. Sidney 
Webb was its principal supporter and he gave it a certain intellectual flavour; 
though his programme was advanced enough. Sidnejl and Beatrice Webb became 
our friends, and visited us at Clean. There was always great discussion as to which 
was the abler, but no conclusions were arrived at, for both were extraordinarily able 
and yet more extraordinarily diligent. They made one feel heartily ashamed of 
one’s idle hours when one saw how they worlad from morning to night, producing 
volumes of carefully verified matter. They had great influence on politics on both 

.. . ■■ . 5.9 



MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
programmes among which the voters could choose. Almost 
the only lead as to policy was given by what was then an 
obscure body of young men and women, the Fabian 
Society,' which, by what was then an original device, 
caused all the candidates to be importuned by showers 
of printed lists of questions, sent by electors demanding 
answers to every issue of what ought to be “municipal 
politics These were accompanied by pamphlets explain- 
ing in detail the policy afterwards known as municipal 
Socialism. In the absence of any contrary policy, a large pro- 
portion of the candidates, who had thought only of “ good 
government ”, found themselves subscribing to this pro- 
gramme. 

The first three years’ term of the London County Council 
was chiefly occupied in framing the elaborate constitution 
required for so great an administration, and with tentative 
efforts towards increased efficiency and avoidance of waste. 
When the second election approached (that of 1892 at 
which the Other One became a candidate for a seat held by 
a Conservative), party organisation on both sides became 
definite and powerful. The Conservative Party saw the im- 
portance of controlling so influential a local authority as the 
London County Council had become. Opposing the Con- 
servatives were those councillors who called themselves the 
Progressives, with a view to uniting for municipal purposes, 
along with the Liberals (largely Nonconformists), also the 
Conservative and Liberal Unionist sympathisers with an 
active policy in London administration; the churchmen and 
Roman Catholic philanthropists who wanted the slums and 
the mean streets reformed; and the "trade unionist work- 
men who sought to insist on fairer conditions of employ- 

sides because they saw nearly as much of Balfour, the Bishop of London and the 
Conservatives as they did of Liberals like my brother, though there were indeed those 
like Asquith who turned a deaf ear to their theories ” (pp. 135-6). 

' The Fabian Society, thS oldest IWng Socialist society in this or any country, 
was founded in 1884. Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb both joined it in the first 
year of its existence, and Webb was a member of its Executive Committee for fifty 
years, from 1885 to 1935. Beatrice became a member of the Fabian Society shortly 
after her marriage. In the 1945 election, over 200 of the 394 Labour members 
returned to Parliament were Fabians. (Ed.) 

60 


THE LONDON PROGRAMME 
merit. This heterogeneous host was marshalled by a pro- 
fessedly non-political body (the London Reform Union), 
and was supplied with a programme — the Other One says 
by the Fabian Society — a programme which, somehow or 
other, found its way into six months’ issues of The Speaker, 
then the weekly organ of intellectual Liberalism.' 

It is difficult to bring home to the perplexed, pessimistic 
and jaded mind of post-war England the mental climate 
of the London Progressive movement of the ’nineties. 
Honest indignation at the mass misery of the working-class 
quarters of London, ardent hopefulness of what might be, 
and assured confidence in the way of betterment — this union 
of pity, hope and faith underlies The London Programme of 
1892. 

First the rousing of the sense of shame in the better-off 
citizens of London : 

Twenty thousand of its citizens fight in the fearful daily struggle 
for bread at the dock gates, and even after the Pyrrhic victory of the 
great dock strike of 1889, one-third of them, on an average, struggle 
in vain. Thirty thousand of its children are at school entirely break- 
fastless. One in every five of the five millions who began again to-day 
the weary round of life will eventually quit that life in the workhouse 
or the hospital, for want of a better refuge. One in ten of them had 
to accept the bitter bread of official pauper charity last year. And all 
this in the richest and most productive city in the world, paying an 
annual tribute, or ground rent, of fifteen millions sterling for mere 
permission to occupy the low hills and swampy marsh by the Thames, 
which labour alone has rendered productive! . . . The million house- 
holds, immersed in constant toil, and for the most part pinched by 
sordid cares, have long had no common standard, no conscious common 
action. Without effective "municipal or political organisation, without 
unity of taxation or representation, a mere loose aggregate of shifting 
sand, this great community has lain almost helpless in its anarchy 
before the forces of spoliation. . . . We dare not neglect the sullen 
discontent now spreading among its toiling millions. If only for the 
sake of the rest of the Empire, the Lqpdon nmsses must be organised 

* These articles were afterwards published in book form (T/ie London Programme, 
by Sidney Webb, 1892). They had been preceded by the Fabian Society’s Facts 
for Londoners (56 pp., 1889), described as “an exhaustive collection of statistical 
and other facts relative to the metropoUsi, with suggestions for reform on socialist 
principles ”. , . ' . 



MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 

for a campaign against the speculators, vestry jobbers, house farmers, 
water sharks, market monopolists, ground landlords, and other social 
parasites now feeding upon their helplessness. Metropolitan reform 
has become a national, if not an imperial question.’^ 

By himself [pleads the author of The London Programme'] the 
typical Londoner is a frail and sickly unit, cradled in the gutter, 
housed in a slum, slaving in a sweater’s den, and dying in the work- 
house Infirmary. Collectively he is a member of the greatest and most 
magnificent city which the world has known, commanding all the 
latest resources of civilisation, and disposing of almost boundless 
wealth. Accepting the principle of municipal co-operation, which has 
proved so advantageous in the larger provincial towns, what can 
Londoners as citizens do for themselves collectively to make the 
metropolis a pleasanter home for its million families? 2 

The London County Council was, to. quote from The 
London Programme., “ born in chains The powers with 
which it had been endowed did not approximate to those of a 
provincial county borough: 

It had nothing to do with paving, cleansing or lighting the streets; 
waterworks, gasworks, markets, and tramways were completely out- 
side its province; its police formed an army as alien as the Irish con- 
stabulary; it was functionless and almost powerless in valuation and 
assessment; it did not collect its own rates; it had no more control 
over the Thames than over the tides; it was neither the sanitary nor 
the burial authority; and it could not even prepare or supervise the 
registration of the voters who elected it. It was, in fact, simply a cross 
between the county justices and the Metropolitan Board of Works, 
and its chief occupations were a strange hotch-potch of lunatic 
asylums and the fire brigade, main drainage and industrial schools, 
bridges and baby-farms.s 

The embittered conflict at each flection between Pro- 
gressives and Moderates, usually backed up by the Liberals 
and Conservatives respectively, raged round the question of 
increasing the authority of the L.C.C., on the one hand, 
and, on the other, checking, if not superseding, its powers 
by establishing minor mupicipal bodies similar to the non- 
county boroughs scattered about the English counties. For 
it must be noted that London Programme of 1892 did 

» The Londqtt Programme, hj Sidney Webb, p. 7 (1891). 

= Ibid. p. zoj. 3 Ibid. p. 10. 

■■■ 62 ■ ■ 



LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL 
not stop at improvements in the machinery of government. 
The London County Council of the future was to make 
energetic use of its existing and future powers. According 
to the programme that was suggested, it was to become like 
the Manchester or Birmingham County Borough Council, the 
water authority, the gas authority, the tramway authority, 
the market authority, the housing authority, the dock 
authority and the hospital authority, and, most preposterous 
of all — the police authority, for the metropolitan area. As I 
shall describe in another chapter, one at least of the Pro-, 
gressives desired and intended, already in 1892, to unify 
London education and, for this purpose, to make the L.C.C. 
also the education authority for London, in supersession of 
the directly elected London School Board, which was con- 
fined to elementary education. 

New sources of revenue were to be secured by the equalisa- 
tion of rates between rich and poor districts, by the taxation 
of ground rents and by a municipal death duty. Above all, 
the unearned increment, due to the mere growth of the 
population or to public improvements, was to be partially 
absorbed by the community, either through betterment 
rates, or by the County Council having the power of com- 
pulsory purchase of land on the basis of a special valuation 
as a source of revenue. To quote Joseph* Chamberlain, the 
London County Council of those days was a volatile body 
“ whose ambition soars far above those details of local 
government upon which the health and happiness of the 
people mainly depend 

Glimpses of the L.p.C. at work and of the reaction set 
up by the doings and doctrines of the Progressives, at the 
polls and in the press — extending even to the august circles 
of the Cabinet and ex-Cabinet — appear in the MS. diaries 
1892-98, and may interest the student of municipal in- 
stitutions. • . • 

7 "/ie Jrgoed, July 30//;, 1893. — ^The London County Council 
looms hii-ge in ou]- lives because it takes up so mucli of Sidney's 
energies. Every day he comes home he tells me about his various 
■ TAe Speaker, February iSgy. ^ 

■ ■ ■ ■ 63: .. ■' 



MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 

committees and gives me glimpses of the internal working of the 
machine. Let me see whether I can sum up some of the impressions 
he leaves on my mind. First, the L.C.C. consists of the Progressive 
portion of it. The Moderates, as a party, are simply out of it. Individual 
Moderates become chairmen of committees, but only because in those 
particular departments they are more progressive than the Progressives. 
Indeed, the convereion of the abler Moderates to definite portions of 
the Progressive programme is one of the notable features of the County 
Council, and a token of the triumph of the idea of public administra- 
tion as against private enterprise. That is, of course, the whole signifi- 
cance of the L.C.C. — the growing faith in and enthusiasm for public 
service. It is not that the L.C.C. does so much more than its pre- 
decessor the Metropolitan Board of Works, but that it does all its 
work efficiently and with zeal, and with a view to increasing and not 
diminishing its functions. There is no one man at the L.C.C. who 
dominates the organisation. I imagine in the last Council Lord 
Rosebery took a pre-eminent part. But, though Lord Rosebery 
continues a member, he seldom attends; and his swooping down on 
the Council, with regard to a proposed site the other day, was much 
resented. The Council is really run by various groups of county 
councillors, circling round the three office-holders — who are all county 
councillors — the chairman, vice-chairman and deputy-chairman of the 
Council. The most prominent of these groups is the one directing the 
parliamentary and political policy of the County Council — among 
whom are B. F. C. Costelloe, Sidney and J. W. [afterwards Sir John 
Williams] Benn. Then come the chairmen of the non-political com- 
mittees — such as housing, parks, asylums, etc., all of whom are in 
touch with the chairman of the Council. John Burns occupies a quite 
unique position, owing, not to his committee work, but to his powerful 
personality and Labour following outside the Council. His influence, 
moreover, is diminishing since he has become an M.P. 

It is, perhaps, a sign that the County Council is still young that the 
whole direction of its administration is in the hands of the councillors 
and not relegated to the paid servants. There are twenty or thirty men 
who make a profession of the Council, in the sense of spending their 
whole energies on its work. This, of course, means that the L.C.C. 
is a middle-class body; composed of men of sufficient means to work 
for nothing. And, even those working-men who are on it, contribute 
little to its governmeift; they-speak in the weekly meetings of the 
Council, but they take little or no part in committees. 

The weekly Council meetings are, perhaps, the least important 
part of the Council’s proceedings. The aim of the able chairman of a 
committee is to pass his reports through Tuesday’s meeting without 

64 


LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL 


raising contentious questions. It is only the badly-managed committees 
that get their activities talked about and their policies discussed. The 
Council is a machine for evolving a committee; the committee is a 
machine for evolving one man — the chairman. Both alike a machine 
for dodging the democracy (in a crude sense) by introducing govern- 
ment by a select minority instead of the rule of the majority. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, “June %oth, 1894. — Haldane just been here: says 
the Unionist Party will make a determined attack on the L.C.C. 
and attempt to break London up into separate municipalities. That 
this has been in tlie mind of Chamberlain, Balfour and Salisbury is 
clear from their recent utterances. But Sidney says that it is an irru; 
possibility; you could not divest the L.C.C. of the great bulk of its 
powers though, of course, it would be possible to change its constitution 
and reinstate the Metropolitan Board of Works. But that would be 
too much to propose. Meanwhile, it is of the utmost importance to 
carry the vestries. I must see whether I can get the London Reform 
Union to take the matter up. Cannot help thinking that Chamberlain 
is leading his party very wrong and that he will knock his head against 
a blank wall both on the London question and on that of the trade 
unions. It looks like sheer political idiocy to throw the trade unions 
and the London Progressives into the arms of the Liberals — but, I 
suppose, he thinks he sees his game! Personally, one would regret 
being forced into the fight — as we shall both be if the attack is serious. 
It is so much pleasanter to investigate and write rather than organise 
and speak. Just now our life is so perfect; it might easily become 
strained, and dissipated in mere manipulation. But one thing is clear: 
we must live the plainest, most healthful life iri order to get through 
the maximum of work; and one must economise on all personal 
luxuries in order to have cash to spend on anything that turns up 
to be done. With so much love and personal happiness, one ought to 
be able to do much for others. 

The malignant desire of the Conservative Party of 1894 
to destroy the County Council that its own Ministry of 1888 
had set up, in order to break up the great metropolitan area 
into an unspecified number of independent municipalities, 
seems to have provoked us to widen our sphere of elec- 
tioneering activity. For the trienaial elettion of the London 
School Board in 1894, the Fabian Society threw itself into 
the “Fight against Diggleism ’V which our close friend, 


See p. 67. (Ed.) 

65 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
Graham Wallas, was successfully organising, and which the 
Other One helped by various journalist activities. Our own 
main attention was given to the most neglected part of the 
electoral field, that of the five or six thousand members of 
the hundred or so vestries,' whose triennial term of office 
expired shortly after that of the members of the School 
Board. The vestry election campaign throughout London 
was taken in hand, not very efficiently, by the London 
Reform Union, the body formed primarily to look after the 
Progressive Party’s electioneering for the County Council. 
We ourselves could do little more than lead the forlorn hope 
in our own Toiy Westminster (at that time the united 
parishes of St. Margaret and St. John), where we both 
offered ourselves as candidates. 

Borough Farm, Surrey, July 25th, 1894. — . . . We have the 
organisation of the vestry elections on our hands — I having instigated 
the London Reform Union to take it up, having got Sidney appointed 
as chairman of the sub-committee, feel that we must pull the fight 
through successfully. Also, started a “ Citizen Sunday ” for next 
October in the hope of drawing in the clergy of all denominations 
into London reform.* But all this casual work means taking time from 
our book, and I am glad to be down here to concentrate on this very 
tough bit of analysis. If we get on to the Westminster Vestry, that 
will take up even more time, and Heaven only knows when we shall 

' It is liard to convey to the present generation the confusion and obscurity of 
the local administration of the several parishes of London outside the one square 
mile of the City Corporation during the whole of the nineteenth century. The rate- 
payers of the twenty-five large parishes elected vestries of 24 to 120 members, who 
administered (without any other supervision or control than, after 1871, that of the 
very perfunctory Local Government Board) the paving, lighting, cleansing and 
draining of the strectsj all that existed of the sanUption of the dwellings and the 
removal of refuse, and many miscellaneous services. They had authority to levy an 
unlimited rate on the householders. Nearly a hundred smaller parishes were grouped 
in 1855 under fourteen district boturds, of from 27 to 84 members, which were 
nominated trienniaUy by the elected vestries of the constituent tiny parishes. When 
the London County Council was established in 1888, these vestries and district 
boards were spending nearly £2,000,000 annually. 

2 “ Citizen Sunday ”, a chosen day on which all churches and chapels are invited 
to unite in prayer for social reform,''and to devote a sermon to some aspect of the 
citizen’s duty, has since [1936] continued annually. It was at first sponsored by 
the Christian Social Union, which became the Industrial Christian Fellowship. A 
circular appeal, signed by about a hundred leading citizens, including, besides 
ministers of all denominations, prominent trade unionists, employers of labour and 
politicians, is addressed annuaiOly to all places of worship. 

66 


LONDON REFORM UNION 


get the book to the printer: at present the thought of it undone and 
not visibly growing oppresses me much. 

Grosvenor Road, December ist, 1894. — Galton’s little study turned 
into the central office of the Progressive candidates for the Westminster 
vestry elections. Certainly, we have created our organisation and 
selected our 90 candidates with singularly little trouble. The first stage 
was to create a branch of the London Reform Union — Sidney, chair- 
man, Galton secretary; the second to call, in the name of the L.R.U. 
branch, a conference of all the temperance, trade union and political 
organisations, and to form a Progressive council — Sidney chairman, 
Galton secretary; the final step to select our candidates and to form 
these into one organisation: Sidney chairman, Galton secretary. TheS^ 
three organisations, under their respective chairmen and secretaries, 
have worked with wonderful harmony; and have between them, at 
a cost of ,^30, initiated a really vigorous campaign. The Westminster 
Radicals, a poor down-trodden lot, perpetually licked at all elections, 
hardly know themselves with their 90 candidates. Sidney has drafted 
the address, Galton is acting as election agent, and the working-men 
candidates are doing the canvassing and even the clerk’s work. If by 
some marvellous chance we get returned to-day fortnight, we shall 
have bur work cut out to drill them into working shape. 

Altogether we have been living in the atmosphere of elections. 
Graham’s candidature for the School Board gave us a personal interest 
in the fight. Of course, the result of the School Board elections is 
most satisfactory, from the point of view of the Progressives generally, 
and most exasperating for the Progressive Party on the School Board. 
Graham Wallas is making friends with the “ le§: wing ” of the enemy 
in the hope of detaching the majority of them from the educational 
policy of Diggle, and turning the scale.' It is very curious, that both 
Sidney and Graham, though very advanced in their views, are better 
liked by the Moderates of the L.C.C. and L.S.B. than other members 
of the Progressive Party. “ Wily Webb ”, as Sidney is called on the 
L.C.C., is always colloguing with the more sensible of the Moderates 
with a view of getting tfiem to agree to things im de^atV which they 
could hardly accept in bulk. That seems also to be Graham’s policy 
which he is carefully beginning on the London School Board. The 
truth is that we want the things done ?Ln 6 t we don’t much care what 

■ The School Board election in November 1894 resulted in the virtual defeat of 
the policy so long pursued by the Rev. J. R. Diggld? the leader of the Church 
party. But his opponent, the Hon. Lyulph Stanley (later Lord Stanley of Alderley), 
failed to secure a “ Progressive” majority, though Graham Wallas came in with a 
notable reinforcement. This produced an almost evenly divided Board, in which 
a few enlightened and well-disposed churchmen often voted with the Progressives; 
a situation giving scope for skilful compromises) 

■67-. 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 


persons or which party gets the credit; we are pretty confident that, 
if it comes to a fight, we know the arts of war as well as our enemies; 
but, between the battles, our cause may be advanced by diplomacy — 
even by a frank alliance with our former enemies if they be willing 
to take one litde step forward in our direction. The Fabians are still 
convinced believers in the policy of permeation. 

Meanwhile, tire book hangs fire. With both Sidney and Galton 
completely absorbed, I feel helpless. Moreover, as a candidate myself 
for the vestry, I have caught a little of the election fever and am 
growing rapidly excited and perturbed. The L.C.C. elections, upon 
which so much depends, are looming in the distance. It might be 
Ijetter to give myself up frankly to electioneering and use these weeks 
as an opportunity for observing how elections are fought and won. 
It is all part of our subject-matter — democracy. Surely we shall end by 
constructing the great “ Webb ” chart of the modern democratic state? 

December 1894. — Crushing defeat at Westminster vestry elections; 
only 5 Progressives out of 96! We had persuaded ourselves that we 
should at least carry St. John’s II. solid, and make some show in St. 
John’s I. and III. — the St. Margaret’s Ward we recognised as hope- 
less. But, apparently, the slums of Westminster are as completely Tory 
as the palaces. I do not think there has been any lack of energy or 
even of skill in engineering such forces as we had. But it is obvious 
that our attempt to collar the constituency with three weeks’ work — ■ 
mostly amateur — was a fiasco, which we ought to have expected. 
Against us we had a perfect organisation with a permanent staff, a 
local paper and unlimited money, we had all the wealthy residents, 
nearly all the employers of labour, and the whole liquor interest — no 
fewer than ten publicans and five other persons connected with the 
Trade, running as Conservative candidates. We had a register from 
which every known Liberal had been knocked off, year by year, 
without a protest from the feeble flickering little Liberal Association. 
Behind all this, we had Burdett-Coutts’s charities and churches. And 
to fight these potent powers Galton stood .single-handed with a mob 
of working-men and small tradesmen candidates — some of them good 
talkers, but like most Labour men full of gassy optimism, caring only 
to fore-gather in the rooms of the Liberal Association and talk big of 
the victory they are going to win. Our one strong card was the cor- 
ruption of the last vestry — “ squalid jobbery amounting to corruption ”. 
But the Conservatives* very rightly preferred a little “jobbery” — 
infinitesimal burden on the rates — to a possible defeat of their party 
in one of its fastnesses. Deeply-rooted distrust of entrusting business 
to a lot of “small folk ” of no standing operated, too, against our 
candidates; working-men — other things being equal- — prefer an em- 
68 


VESTRY ELECTIONS 


ployer to a fellow-worker as a candidate; other things were in this 
case unequal — to our disadvantage. 

Add to these causes the perfectly legitimate grudge the Westminster 
ratepayers have against the Progressives for the 6d. extra imposed by 
the Rate Equalisation Bill. 

All that I have heard of vestrydom in this election and its doings, 
discourages me from hoping much from the new state of things. In 
London, there is no public opinion and no public knowledge about the 
government of these small areas. The L.C.C. has to submit itself to 
full publicity, its every action is scanned by a hostile press, its pro- 
ceedings are witnessed by the whole metropolitan community. But in 
a vestry area tli ere is no public supervision; you may live in a district 
50 years and hardly know of the existence of your vestry — the 
ordinary working-man or professional man would not know any one 
of the vestrymen by name, will hardly know when and at what time 
they hold their meetings, still less what is the weekly or yearly record 
of work. It is only within three weeks of the election that we dis- 
covered that there had been an appalling amount of corruption and 
jobbery. The whole government is left practically in the hands of 
small tradesmen and one or two political wire-pullers largely inter- 
spersed with publicans and builders. Here the worst form of local 
feeling manifests itself — a local feeling which is in itself incipient 
jobbery. If there is a sanitary inspector to be appointed, a local man is 
most likely to be chosen quite irrespective of his qualifications. Of 
course, it does not stop at this comparatively innocent precept of 
“Westminster work for Westminster men” (to my mind a most 
rotten maxim), it soon degenerates into preference for a friend or 
relation of a popular vestryman. And, against this, the citizen has no 
chance of redress for the simple reason that he never knows what is 
going on. Probably the best governed London parishes are the purely 
aristocratic vestries — where the retired Indian civil servant, the officer, 
the rector, the medical man, rule undisputed. You cannot trust a 
democracy without any provision ior full and effective fublicity. That 
was why one felt half-hearted as to the results of this election. The 
little tradesmen or working-men whom we were supporting were no 
better than their Tory fellows. If they had got elected without a strong 
leader they would have sunk to the same level of mean local feeling 
and petty jobbery. Is it possible to create civic patriotism in a small 
metropolitan area, with no common Kfe and no local press read, as a 
matter of course, by all classes of the community? I fear not — at least 
not in our day. 

Grosvenor Road, February loth, 1895. — ^Three weeks off the 
L.C.C. elections. Sidney spending all his mornings writing articles 
69 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
for all sorts of papers — especially the religious organs, such as the 
Guardian, the Church Times, the Christian World, the Methodist 
Times, etc. We are, in fact, making a vigorous attempt to get the 
Church, the Catholic and the Nonconformist ministers on our side. 
As all the “ sinners ” are against us, we might as well get the saints 
to support us. Moreover, we resolutely refuse to believe that any good 
]}crson properly informed could be otherwise than a Progressive! If we 
are beaten — i.e. if a Moderate majority is returned — it will not be 
for lack of organisation. We are better organised than our opponents — 
if they win it will show that the common opinion is against us. . . . 

* Grosvenor Road, March 5th, 1895. — An anti-climax! After all the 
heat on both sides, after the blowing of both the big party trumpets, 
the calling to arms of saints and sinners by their respective champions, 
the rousing, on the one hand, of all the threatened interests, the 
appeal, on the other hand, to the forces of piety and democracy, 
London citizens send back an exactly even number of Moderates and 
Progressives — ^a bare half of registered electors taking the trouble to 
vote. In so many words, our constituents laugh in their sleeves, and 
say “ tweedledee, tweedledum As far as Sidney personally is con- 
cerned, it is “ as in 1 892 ”, his poll becoming fractionally higher, 
his majority fractionally lower. In a Conservative constituency, he 
retains a Progressive majority of eighteen hundred votes. 

The loss of the second seat, too, means practically no change since 
it is fully accounted for by Keylock’s stupidity and Elliott’s [Social 
Democratic Federation candidate] superior poll.' In Deptford at least 
the mind of the electors is apparently unchanged. But, though this 
is most satisfactory, yet we do not disguise from ourselves that there is 
nothing like the enthusiasm of 1892. The same proportion of the 
electors went to the polling booth and voted for Sidney — largely 
because we insisted on it. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, Maixh 1895. — Sidney low about the L.C.C. — 
brooding over the defeat. It is not unnaturapnow that we should hear 
rumours of the magnificent organisation of our opponents — of ,^30,000 
collected for the election, of an electoral council composed of delegates 
from the central Conservative Association and the Municipal Society, 
and the Moderate Party sitting daily receiving reports from con- 
stituencies; of swarms ofconvassers, of, in fact, a perfect electioneej'ing 
kit for each candidate. There may be some basis for these reports — ■ 

' H. Keylock .ind J. Elliott split between them the Progressive vote and let in the 
Moderate candidate. H. Keylock represented Deptford on the L.G.C., 1892-95; he 
was said to be strong in support of municipal services, but timid in facing any con- 
sequent rise in the rates. (Ed.) 

70 ■ . ■ . . 


CONSTITUTIONAL SOCIALISM 


but, if all this happened, then why did not the Moderates poll a 
higher vote? No, there is no accounting for the defeat except the 
falling away of our supporters — in some cases, their transference to 
the other side, but usually their abstention. From reports, the explana- 
tion seems to be largely the lack of employment during a time of fearful 
cold — with the indifference and even savage hostility to all existing 
institutions which this state breeds. “ Everybody is either out of work 
or only half employed and, consequently, out of sorts with everybody 
else, and some think if they could have a change of any sort, it must 
be an improvement.” These words I read yesterday by chance in a 
report from a London branch of a great trade union; acting on this 
soreness — this feeling of quite unmerited misery — we have the I.L.Pr 
abuse of the Progressives, and the cunning appeals of the Moderates 
for support to begin great public improvements without waiting for 
such fanciful reform as betterment rates. But the general conclusion 
that comes out of it is that an empty belly is, from our point of view, 
a bad politician. These times of physical want and mental despair are 
either the seed times of angry revolutionary feeling or of colourless 
despairing quietude. We forget that it was not until the dark years 
of 1881-85 were well over that constitutional socialism, as distinguished 
from revolutionary socialism, began to grow. It was no coincidence 
that the great Progressive victory came in the year of the greatest 
prosperity. We must educate and wait for fat years. 

It has added to Sidney’s discomfiture that the mercurial H. W. 
Massingham has turned against him. Massingham has had fits of 
admiration for Sidney, of more or less duration! Only the other day 
we heard of him dilating on his greatness, and ^asserting that any day 
he cared he could be in the Cabinet! All through the L.C.C. campaign 
he has been more than friendly — both publicly and privately. But the 
results of the fight have brought about a reaction against Sidney; and 
strangely enough it has been Sidney’s personal success which seems to 
have tipped the balance. The fall of Burns’ majority has angered 
Massingham, and the fact that Sidney— a middle-class collectivist— 
has not received the sarfle snub from the multitude has made him 
still angrier. For Massingham has a hero-worship for John Burns. 
His excitable unstable nature has always been attracted by the boisterous 
vigour and immense self-conceit and assurance of our great Labour 
leader. As a dramatic critic, he has infinitely preferred the stalwart 
demagogue, with his picturesque language and bracing personality, to 
Sidney’s quiet, unpretentious little figure, with its even flow of 
statistics, arguments and diplomatic persuasiveness (or as some would 
say evasiveness!), and, like a good critic, he is sore and angry that the 
audience do not take his view and favour his favourite. For the rest, 


71 



MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
Burns has always disliked and suspected the pair of us and has instilled 
some of his prejudices into Massingham’s mind. But Sidney will write 
a soft answer — ^and in a few months, perhaps weeks, the tantrum will 
be over. 

There is no use blinding ourselves to the setback to our ideas. Tom 
Mann said that the victory of the Progressives would redound to the 
glory of official Liberalism. Quite the contrary, it is our defeat which 
will give them secret joy. “ No more of your collectivism for us ”, 
the Liberal capitalist will say — “ it cannot even buy votes for our 
party.” It will doubtless harden the heart of the old gang; militate 
against the reconstruction of the Liberal Party on the collectivist 
basis. And, while it will delay permeation, it will also weaken the 
chances of an Independent Labour Party becoming any force in the 
land. F. Hammill and Peter Curran have discredited themselves — by 
their success and failure. They have injured the Progressives, without 
showing any strength of their own. No class of Englishman can long 
tolerate tlie simple wrecker. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, March 13M, 1895. — Yesterday at the L.C.C, 
was an exciting scene. When we arrived at half past two the entrance 
was crowded and all the galleries filled — the inside of the building 
leading to the Council chamber thronged with councillors and their 
immediate friends and relations. By Charles Harrison’s kindness, I 
was passed on to the dais where I sat between Lady Farrer and 
Mrs. Beachcroft on the Moderate side of the chair. All the councillors 
were in their places before the clock struck three. To everyone’s 
surprise Sir J. Hutton, tliough in the building, refused to take the 
chair, sulking at his* non-re-election by his own party — Charles 
Harrison, vice-chairman, opening the proceedings in his hoarse guttural. 
The election of the chairman [Sir Arthur Arnold] was a foregone 
conclusion — the aldermen an agreed compromise. Both parties had 
their men in attendance, and they were ushered in by the two whips 
and welcomed by the new chairman. A distinguished company, three 
retired heads of great government departments, a bevy of peers — 
Ritchie, the stepfather of the Council, E. Hubbard, an aristocratic 
director of the Bank of England, Whitmore, the leader of the Tory 
M.P.’s for London and the oiganiser of the Moderate fbrcesj in fact, 
only one nonentity among the new aldermen, the Progressive Hubbard, 
a rough and ready temperance member of the old Council. Certainly, 
if the Progressives have'^accomplished no other good, they have made 
the L.C.C. the most accomplished, distinguished, and even tlie most 
aristocratic, local body in the world! A strange effect of the Labour 
and Socialist onslaught on London! And we must admit that the 
Moderate victories have raised the standard of good looks of the L.C.C. 


DEPUTY CHAIRMANSHIP 


Slim aristocrats, well-fed and slightly dissipated-looking frequenters of 
London drawing-rooms and clubs, are, from a scenic point of view, 
welcome contrasts to the stunted figures of the Labour representatives 
and the ungraceful corpulence of the Progressive men of business. 
But the manners are as distinctly deteriorated. The “ gentlemen’s ” 
party are loud and insolent in their wajre — an insolence which is 
possibly a reaction from their long term of servitude to an over- 
whelming Progressive majority. Our side was subdued, sitting tight 
and forcing their way through, by their bare majority to the deputy- 
chairmanship — thus retaining the three executive offices. Over 
Dickinson’s appointment raged a fierce debate — his rejection by 
Wandsworth, his partisanship, and finally his former acceptance oT 
a salary, being alternatively advanced as arguments against his re- 
election. When Sidney rose to defend him (I noticed Ritchie turn 
round to scrutinize the speaker with quick curiosity), the interruptions 
of the Moderates reached their climax — Sidney being, for the nonce, 
the Mte noire of the opposition. All we could do was to save Dickinson 
by promising a committee of enquiry into the whole subject of the 
deputy-chairmanship.* Whether we shall save him and his salary in 
the end, I much doubt. 

It is quite obvious that the brunt of the battle will be over in a 
few months. The Moderates will make a determined attempt to 
reverse the policy of the late Council in all its controvereial points. 
If they do not succeed in capturing, or, at any rate, obstructing the 
machine, they will tire in their efforts. Their party, though well 
equipped with able men, has no staying power — their attendance will 
fall off rapidly as the novelty wears off and fhe game of imperial 
politics becomes more absorbing, or the delights of sport and pleasure 
more enticing. Of course, there will still be powerful critics who are 
able to push us forward whither we do not desire to go, and pull us 
backward from our own coui'se. All this will mean more strain, more 
temper, and more judgement. Whether, when the three years have 
elapsed, and the fourth Council takes its place in Spring Gardens, we 
shall have survived the ordeal, remains to be seen! But, whatever else 

* The office of deputy chairman of the L.C.C. has an interesting history. 
Unlike the chairmanship, or vice-chairmanship, it was at one time a paid post. The 
appointment in its early form originated in the Progressive distrust of permanent 
officials, whom they suspected of being under Tory influence. A deputy chairman 
was, therefore, appointed from among the Council’s ■taembers. He was expected 
to exercise personal control over the staff, and paid a substantial salary to enable him 
to give his whole time to the job. The post was first held by F. B. Firth, M.P., 
leader of the Progressive Party, and on his death by A. H. Haggis, 1889-91. The 
salary was abolished in 1895, when W. H. Dickinson completed his term, and a 
tradition has since then developed of appointing a member of the opposition to the 
post. See History of the London County Council, by Gibbon and Bell, p. 35. (Ed.) 

73 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
may happen, we are not the kind of folk to say to the electorate, 
“ Lord, let thy servants now depart in peace If we die, we will die 
fighting — and leave marks behind us! 

Grosvemr Road, July 8 th, 1895. — Meanwhile, the L.C.C. pro- 
ceeds satisfactorily in spite, of the fact that the Moderates have now 
a majority of one of the elected members. The Moderates have failed 
to wreck the Progressive Party policy — whenever they have been led 
out to do battle, they have ended in running away from the issue. 
Of course, new enterprise in the direction of municipalisation has been 
damped down; but, wherever the lines have been already laid, the 
machine runs smoothly on — with, perhaps, less friction than when 
the Moderates felt themselves a trampled down minority and cried 
out piteously to outside authorities, like the House of Lords, to help 
them. It is much more difficult for the peers to refuse to pass a proposal 
which is brought before them by Lord Cadogan than when it was 
promoted by Charles Harrison. And, if the truth must be told, the 
peers are the least reactionary of the new Moderate recruits and are 
apt to act as a centre between the Tory rump and the Progressive 
vanguard. So works our English society — progressivism may yet be 
saved by the priests and the lords. . . . 

Grosvemr Road, March ind, 1898. [Three years later.] — A great 
meeting at St. James’s Hall — Lord Rosebery to the rescue. I sat 
behind him and watched him narrowly. He had lost that drugged 
look — heavy eyes and morbid flesh — that he had as premier. He is 
at once older, healthier and better looking. His speech had vigour, 
astuteness and flashes 'of dramatic genius. But he was woefully full of 
himself; his whole expression and attitude was concentrated self- 
consciousness and sensitiveness— -not sufficient of an actor to lose him- 
self in his part, not sufficient of a patriot to lose himself in his cause. 
Throughout there was an undercurrent of complaint — of personal 
grudge against the political world. He is not a leader. Outside foreign 
politics he has no creed and only a scrappy knowledge; his very 
egotism is ineffective egotism — ^an egotism that shrinks from the 
world’s touch, not the egotism tliat forces itself on the world. For my 
part, if a man is to be full of himself, I like him to have the will and 
the capacity to make the world full of him also! 

No one knows how the L.C.C. election will turn out: both sides 
suffer in turn from hope and depression. The Conservative organisa- 
tion is straining every nerve to get the Moderates in; whilst we, on 
our side, are beating up every available Progressive force wheresoever 
it is located. There is a good deal of beating of big drums over this 
election: the Conservatives say Lord Salisbury’s Government is at 


L.C.C. ELECTION 


stake, the Progressives that the L.C.C. is to be damned or saved. 
As a matter of fact, neither will happen: and sensible persons on both 
sides feel somewhat ashamed of the exaggeration. Apart from the 
result as a symptom of public opinion, it is doubtful whether it would 
not suit the Progressives that the Moderates should get a small 
majority, and the Conservatives that the Progressives should hold 
office on insecure tenure. An overwhelming defeat would naturally 
be disastrous to either side, but we imagine that public opinion is too 
divided for that. We incline to believe in a small Progressive majority; 
the Moderate whip, on* the other hand, expects to win six seats. But 
there is no index to the public opinion of that anonymous creature— 
the London elector. . . . 

Grosvenor Road, March 1898 . — The L.C.C. Election. We sallied 
forth about 8.30 a.m. (Sidney having voted first in Westminster) 
laden with sandwiches, teapots and oranges, to fit up the committee 
rooms. It was a glorious morning, the Westminster buildings rising out 
of the blue atmosphere and the river dancing in the brilliant morning 
sun. At 9.30, I had settled down at one of tlic six committee rooms, 
spent an hour arranging the bringing-up cards, and learning my way 
about on the map of the district. Throughout the morning working- 
men helpers dribbled in, and voters turned up anxious to find out 
their polling district. About- 3.30, the bringers-up trouped in; at 5, 
it was a crowd in the little room, each waiting to report progress. 
Then came on a heavy fall of snow; but the feeling of the Progressives 
was so hot that they trudged on through the sleet and the slush — not 
one of my fifteen workers gave up working. But I felt that the Lord 
had meant to test the strength of the conviction of the working-man 
and I trembled with doubt — would he go to the poll in spite of the 
rain? That was the question which agitated the heads of the organisa- 
tion for the next two hours. Directly we learnt that the working-class 
districts had polled 60% we knew we were safe—and hoped that 
Deptford was a sample this time of London. Then the hurried dinner- 
nineteen of our West End helpers; then the exciting hours of the 
count; then the midnight visit to the National Liberal Club all aglow 
with Progressive victories — and then to bed, oh ! so tired, far too tired 
to sleep. 

The Moderates are hardly snowed under as in 1892, but they are 
soundly beaten, leaving us in a great majority for the next three years. 
They owe their defeat to the foolharcfy attack on the L.C.C. led by 
Salisbury and Devonshire, to the apathy of the Conservative voter 
during a Conservative Government, and the negative character of the 
Moderate programme. Last time, the Moderates declared themselves 
in favour of Chamberlain’s social programme: this time, as a Con- 
75 . ■ ■ 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
servative Ministry was in power and doing little or nothing to carry 
out the programme, they could not pretend to be in favour of it. The 
workman, too, who is sentimentally attached to the Works Depart- 
ment (which represents his old shibboleths of standard rates and hours 
and direct employment), rallied to the defence of the Progressives 
with great enthusiasm. And the reaction against the Conservative 
Government was greater than the reaction against the Progressives. 
Probably, therefore, we are in for another six years’ power — for so 
long as the Conservatives remain at Downing Street we shall not be 
turned out of Spring Gardens. It is a question whether tlie country 
does not advance more quickly with the Conservatives in power at 
the centre and the Progressives capturing local authorities, than with 
a weak Liberal Government, and a provincial reaction. . . . 

The Technical Education Board 

It is a trite saying that it is the unexpected that happens 
in the development of institutions. The Progressive leaders 
of 1892 would have been mightily surprised if they had 
been told that the L.C.C. of the twentieth century would be 
far less concerned with material things such as gas and 
water, docks and markets, tramways and tunnels, than with 
the education and recreation, medical treatment and adequate 
maintenance of the five millions of inhabitants within the 
metropolitan area. And yet the main task accomplished by 
the Other One during his eighteen years’ service on the 
L.C.C. was its development as the greatest educational 
authority in the world; its first beginnings being the estab- 
lishment of the Technical Education Board covering alike 
elementary, secondary and university education by means of 
grants-in-aid and the establishment of a gigantic scholar- 
ship ladder; and then, through the 1903 Education Act, 
absorbing into itself as the practically unrestricted single 
education authority, for the whole metropolitan area, the 
School Board with its colossal network of elementary schools. 

A series of accidents started the L.C.C. on its career as 
the education authority. The first of these was a mishap to 
the Conservative budget of 1890, which had included an 
addition to the spirit duties, to be credited to the county 
and county borough councils, partly for a scheme of police 
76 


TECHNICAL EDUCATION BOARD 
superannuation, and partly for the purchase of publicans’ 
licences in order to get rid of redundant public-houses. To 
the latter proposal a storm of opposition arose, mainly from 
the temperance movement, which objected to such a re- 
cognition of property in licences. Towards the end of the 
session, after the increased taxes had been voted, and were 
in course of collection, the Government found itself con- 
strained to abandon the proposed appropriation to the pur- 
chase of licences. The constitutional point was then pressed 
that the new tax revenue could not be left unappropriated 
in the same session in which it was authorised. At this stage* 
A. H. D. Acland,' a much underrated British statesman, 
an enthusiast for public education and one of the few adepts 
in the new subject of technical education, jumped in. For 
three days he fought to get the “ whiskey money ” definitely 
allocated, in England, to technical education, and in Wales 
to the execution of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. 
In the end, the Government agreed to the proposal for 
Wales, and for England handed the money over to the 
county councils to expend as they thought fit; but with a 
distinct intimation that definite charges would hereafter be 
laid on them for educational purposes. 

The newly established London County Council had not 
found time in its first term to take action under the Technical 

' “ A. H, D. Acland,” writes R. B. Htildane in his autobiography (pp. 93 and 
103)) . . a real reformer in elementary and secondary education and to whom I 

was attracted on this account, was another of our members. Mr. Gladstone never 
cared for him much because, having once been a clergyman, he had renounced his 
clerical orders so as the better to be able to enter public life effectively. But, partly I 
think in response to the strong appeals some of us made to him, Mr. Gladstone, 
when he next came in in 1892, made Acland Minister of Education, a position in 
which he did splendid work, t . . Arthur Acland was also a stimulating person- 
ality, full of knowledge, particularly about primary and secondary education.” To 
this appreciation I may add that from the first days of Labour representation and 
throughout the career of the parliamentary Labour Party right up to his death in 
1926, Arthur Acland was a generous supporter of the new movement. In the general 
elections of 191S, ’22, ’23 and ’24 he gave considerable sums to enable young uni- 
versity men to run as Labour candidates; and by a donation of £1600 he made 
possible the establishment of the National Lalmur Clflb in 1919. Finally, he left 
,^10,000 on trust to enable young Labour men and women to pursue research in 
political and economic subjects. His lifelong connection with the consumers’ co- 
operative movement is well known. Though he was not among the brilliant or 
dominant, he was assuredly the most enlightened and far-seeing of all the Liberal poJi- 
iciansof the last decade of the nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth century. 

77 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
Instruction Act; not even when in 1890 it found itself 
endowed with the funds thus vaguely allocated for the 
purpose. It so happened that S. W.’s first motion on the 
Council was one proposing that a committee should be 
appointed to consider whether the Council should not 
proceed under the Act. So cautiously worded a resolution, 
not taken seriously, was' adopted unanimously, and the 
mover was left to choose the committee, subject to the usual 
exact representation of the party balance on the Council. 
S. W. has often explained how, in his anxiety to put on the 
•ablest members from the various sections, he found he had 
not provided for a chairman, as . practically all his nominees 
proved to be already chairmen of other committees. He was, 
therefore, virtually driven to preside himself. This com- 
mittee was persuaded not to rely on its inner consciousness 
but to engage a young man — Hubert Llewellyn Smith — 
then acting temporarily as lieutenant to Arthur Acland in 
the promotion of technical education, to prepare a report, 
setting forth the existing position, and sketching out a 
possible policy for the Council. Within a year this com- 
prehensive report — a volume in itself — was approved by 
the committee as a general outline. Meanwhile, the com- 
mittee had been led to accept a new constitution. For the 
Council simply to add one more to its score of committees, 
wholly composed of members of the Council, would have 
antagonised the School Board and the City companies, and 
jeopardised the support of the teachers and the trade 
unionists. Far better, suggested Sidney, create a new instru- 
ment, which might conciliate opponents, and even enlist 
their assistance. This took shape in ihe Technical Educa- 
tion Board — a title not known to the law — composed of 
twenty members of the Council, with fifteen nominated 
outsiders. Moreover, explained the Fabian, if the Council 
was going to nominate outsiders at all, it was better to let 
the rival or sectional interests choose their own representa- 
tives than for the Council to impose its choice. Hence, the 
Council was recommended to allow the School Board, the 
City and Guilds Institute, the Head Masters’ Association, 

78 


SCHOLARSHIP LADDER 

the Head Mistresses’ Association, the London Teachers’ 
Association, and even the London Trades Council, to 
nominate their own representatives on what thus became a 
hybrid body. Incidentally, it seemed to follow almost auto- 
matically that this Technical Education Board, unlike the 
score of ordinary committees of the Council, had to be freed, 
once its annual estimates were approved, from the necessity 
of seeking specific approval of every expenditure exceeding 
;^5o, and even of reporting its pi'oceedings more than once 
a quarter, and then only for the information of the Council. 

One of the most effective instruments in the Board’s 
policy of co-ordination was its elaborate scholarship system. 
In its popular aspect, this was an educational ladder of un- 
precedented dimensions. It was, indeed, among educational 
ladders, the most gigantic in extent, the most elaborate in 
its organisation of “ intakes ” and promotions, and the most 
diversified in kinds of excellence selected and in types of 
training provided, that existed anywhere in the world. But, 
in the policy of the T.E.B., the system of scholarships and 
bursaries was more than a “ capacity-catching ” device. 
The scholarships brought a steady stream of clever boys 
and girls to the languishing endowed secondary schools, to 
the expanding technical institutes and to the unfilled classes 
of the university colleges. Payment for these county scholars 
was made the basis of a system of annual grants to institu- 
tions under all sorts of independent administrations, justi- 
fying expert inspection of their work, and a carefully devised 
code of regulations to ensure their continued efficiency. 
What had previously been a chaos of isolated institutions, 
largely unaware of ode another’s existence, became gradu- 
ally welded — without suppression of local administration by 
separate bodies of governors — into a graded educational 
system covering every part of London. Into such a system 
it became possible for the Council gradually to introduce 
new and additional secondary schools and technical insti- 
tutes, to fill geographical gaps and relieve local congestion, 
without destroying or even weakening the older institutions, 
or arousing their opposition. Finally, in calling into being 

79 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the London Day- 
Training College, the T.E.B. set a standard in technology 
and pedagogy by which the whole kingdom has profited. 

Under the initial inspiration of Arthur Acland and 
Hubert Llewellyn Smith, Sidney induced the Board to begin 
by appointing a bevy of highly expert officers — the scientist 
William Garnett as secretary and chief officer ; Dr. Kimmins 
as chief inspector; G. J. Frampton and W. R. Lethaby as 
art advisers. Technical education was not to be cramped or 
fettered by limitations of grade or age or even of subject. 
The Board, indeed, could not go beyond the Council’s 
statutory limitation. This, however, was found to be, when 
looked at in the right light, not unduly narrow ! Every sub- 
ject aided by the Science and Art Department was within 
the definition; and also any other subject that the Depart- 
ment might sanction at any time. Sidney chuckled when he 
described how he went to see Acland — then the Minister 
in charge of education — and represented that London was 
a kingdom in itself in which practically every occupation 
was represented. Would the Minister, accordingly, in order 
to save official time and trouble, at once sanction as “ tech- 
nical instruction in London ” every subject that the depart- 
ment had already sanctioned anywhere? “ I think we can 
do that, cannot wej' ” asked Acland of (Sir John) Donnelly, 
his permanent head. The outcome was an order adding, 
for London, a long list of subjects to the already lengthy 
array of the Science and Art Department, including all the 
sciences and all the arts, all foreign languages together with 
modern history, economics, geography, commercial educa- 
tion, domestic economy and what ntft. “We can now law- 
fully teach anything under the sun except ancient Greek 
and theology ”, observed Sidney complacently. 

The scope of the work thus defined, the most important 
issue, in the mind of the chairman of the Board, if not in 
that of the less ob*servan1 members, was the method of 
organisation. It was important not merely to add odds and 
ends of classes and schools and institutes to the multifarious 
and diverse confusion of educational equipment already in 
8o 


A DEVELOPMENT PLAN 

existence. What was essential was to have in view, from the 
first, and to work steadily towards it, though not necessarily 
to talk about it, a scheme of education for London, as a whole, 
in which all grades and kinds of formal education, from 
the kindergarten to the university, in all subjects and at all 
ages, would find appropriate place, and be duly co-ordinated 
and connected. Such a vision involved an immediate 
decision at the outset; between a policy of utilising and 
assisting existing agencies as far as they could be made to 
go, on the one hand, and, on the other, a policy of confining 
the Council’s work to setting up its own institutions in 
unabashed rivalry with established institutions, over which 
the Council would then gain no control. Needless to say, 
the Board was guided to the larger view of comprehension 
and control ; and the existing technical institutions, even- 
ing classes, secondary schools and university colleges, with 
any additions that philanthropic enterprise made to their 
numbers, were gradually brought into a systematic organisa- 
tion. Some critics objected that the T.E.B. had, by its 
lavish subventions, saved the decayed endowed secondary 
schools from supersession by upgrowths from the elementary 
schools under direct public administration. Others declared 
that the T.E.B. had bought, by its grants, the recruiting, 
inspection, supervision, control and virtual direction of these 
ancient foundations, for which an unexpected renaissance 
in desirable variety was thereby assured. 

I have set down rather fully what I have been told of the 
work of the T.E.B.J because, though the work of the Board 
was quite sufficiently praised by educational experts and 
uncritically applauded* by the public, I do not believe that 
justice has been done to the amount of deliberate policy 
that underlay its multifarious decisions. The T.E.B. had 
the wisdom to equip itself from the outset with a consider- 
able staff of the ablest experts it could enlist for love or 
money. The County Council had ?he sense to give the Board 

' For an authoritative .account of the T.E.B. and the development of the County 
Council into the Local Education Authority for London, see A Retfospect, by Dr. 
William Garnett, from the Educational Record, April 19*9. 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
a free hand, and to receive its quarterly reports with due 
appreciation without party dissensions or hampering in- 
structions. I recall with some pride that the Board, unlike 
the other committees of the Council which annually changed 
their chairmen, re-elected Sidney without opposition for six 
successive years (1892-98). I know that he attended every 
one of its meetings and nearly all the innumerable sub- 
committees. I have heard him say that, in the early years, he 
habitually wrote out before each meeting the exact words of 
the resolutions that he thought should be passed on all the 
subjects on the agenda — a practice which usually enabled 
him to steer the discussion to the desired conclusion, and 
at any rate gave him control over the drafting. It remains to 
be added that he insisted on signing every one of the 
thousands of cheques by which the Board’s payments were 
made, in order, as he explained, to “ look at each with the 
eye of the district auditor ”, so that he might ensure (as 
throughout the whole six years he did ensure) that no pay- 
ment was so described as to attract a surcharge — the bug-bear 
of inexperienced authorities working under indefinite powers. 

Here is one of the few entries in the MS. diary referring 
to Sidney’s afternoons at Spring Gardens : 

Grosvenor Road, July ^oth, 1893.— Five afternoons of the week he 
is engrossed in committee work.' Besides the general business of the 

' The following list of committees on which S. W. served between 1892 and 1898 
show that his afternoons were not entirely absorbed by the T.E.B. Throughout this 
period he was also a member of the party committee which acted as a sort of in- 
formal Cabinet deciding the policy of the progressives on all controversial subjects: 

Member of the Appeal Committee, 1892-93; 

Corporate Property Committee, 1895-98; 

County Rate Committee, 1896-98; 

Establishment Committee, 1892-93; * 

Finance Committee, 1S93-95; 

General Purposes Committee, 1892-98; 

Local Government and Taxation Committee, 1892-98; 

(Vice-chairman, 1892-94); 

Parliamentary Committ^ 1892-98; 

Public Health and Housing Committee, 1892-93; 

Rivers Commiltee, 189^-95; 

Water Committee, 1892-95; 


ENDOWMENT OF MOTHERHOOD 

Council, he has been giving persistent vi^ork to starting the Technical 
Education Board and guiding its various sub-committees. Kind friends 
tell me he is an extraordinarily clever chairman of a troublesome 
Board of experts and obstructives. Besides this — ^his special work — 
he has had to draw up the plan to be submitted to the London Unifica- 
tion Commission and give constant attention to the special L.C.C. 
committee which has been somewhat at cross-purposes with the Com- 
mission presided over by our esteemed relative Leonard Courtney. . . . 
With his life I am more than satisfied. The work he is doing, creating 
machinery for collective action, is the work I desired to see him do: 
and the fact that his work is unostentatious, that it cannot be seen or 
estimated except by his fellow-workers, makes it all the finer. . . • 
And as, in spite of this purely administrative effort, he still finds 
energy to think, reconstruct past history, to disentangle ideas — I do 
not feel that his life has been narrowed by becoming mainly practical. 
To adapt the present machinery to the facts of to-day, to think out 
the new machinery for to-morrow by the light of yesterday’s experience 
— this combination of practice and theory is, I think, the ideal life 
for him. ... 

The Other One’s work on the T.E.B., and Graham 
Walks’s service on the London School Board, seem to have 
led me to ponder over the question whether we were not 
putting the cart before the horse in concentrating on the 
education of the child and the training of the youth, without 
trying to solve the problem of the right breeding of the 
human race. • 

All this points [I enter in my diary in July 1894] to the endow- 
ment of motherhood and raising the “generation and rearing” of 
children into an art through the elaboration of a science. Sometimes, 
I imagine how the men and women of a hundred years hence will 
wonder at our spending all our energy and thought on the social 
organisation of adult men and women, and omitting altogether the 
vastly more important question of the breeding of the generation that 
is to succeed them. “ How could you hope to improve (they will say) 
the organisation of society without attending to the quality of the men 
and women to be organised? The success or failure of your collectivist 
organisation depended on the characteristics of the democracy, and 
these characteristics you left to the chances of the unregulated and 
haphazard breeding of the slums.” And their criticism will be true. 
What can we hope from these myriads of deficient minds and deformed 
bodies that swarm in our great cities — what can we hope from them 
83 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
but brutality, meanness and crime; whether they are struggling for 
subsistence at the dock gates, or eking out their days in the poor law 
or penal colony? To enlist the loafer at trade union rates, in the 
service of the community, will probably enable him to work less and 
eat more than under the lash of the slave-driver. On the other hand, 
the vigorous-minded artisans, with their well-educated wives, are 
abstaining from child rearing because it is an unpaid service rendered 
to the community, seriously impairing their strength for the struggle 
to gain tlieir own bread. These facts will seem so obvious to the social 
reformer of 1994 that he will wonder at our endless discussions of 
present-day problems much as we wonder at the metaphysical politics 
•'which absorbed the whole energy of the French thinkers on the eve 
of the Revolution. But for all that, we cannot take up the woman’s 
question. We cannot hope to attack individualism, or, as we prefer 
to call it, anarchy, in its stronghold of the home and the family, 
entrenched behind current religious morality and custom, before we 
have replaced it by deliberate collective rule in the factory, the mine — 
in the whole machinery of wealth production, where anarchy stands 
condemned by the gi'eat bulk of the people as meaning oppression and 
gross injustice between man and man. Possibly, too, woman will have 
to go through the same social stages as the labourer, on her way to 
freedom; she will have to exchange the servitude of status for the 
servitude of contract, to rise out of personal dependence before she 
gains social protectioji and recognition. We can but leave this problem 
reverently to our children: preparing their way by cutting at the roots 
of prejudice, superstition and rotten custom. Often, I wonder whether 
we do our full duty, in this respect; whether we do not acquiesce 
timidly in the prevailing thought and feeling on these remote issues 
in order to diminish the friction for those reforms we have in hand? 
If so, we are short-sightedly practical — we attain our means but lose 
our end. 

The London School of Economics 

At this point I recall the first steps in what was perhaps 
the biggest single enterprise in Our Partnership- — the 
initiation of the London School of Economics and Political 
Science, 

An odd adventure! [I write in my diary on September 21, 1894]. 
A few weeks ago, Sidney received a letter from a Derby solicitor 
informing him that he was left executor to a certain Mr. Hutchinson. 
All he knew of tliis man (whom he had never seen) was the flict that 
he was an eccentric old gentleman, member of the Fabian Society, 
84 


HUTCHINSON TRUST 

who alternately sent considerable cheques and wrote querulous letters 
about Shaw’s rudeness, or some other fancied grievance he had suffered 
at the hands of some member of the Fabian Society. “ Old Hutch ” 
had, however, been a financial stay of the Society and the executive 
was always deploring his advancing age and infirmity. When Sidney 
heard he was made executor he, therefore, expected that the old man 
had left something to the Fabian Society. Now it turns out that he 
has left nearly ,^10,000 to five trustees and appointed Sidney chairman 
and administrator — all the money to be spent in ten years. The old 
man blew his brains out, finding his infirmities grow upon him. He 
had always lived a penurious life and stinted his wife and by no means 
spoilt his children — and left his wife only ,£100 a year which Sidne}? 
proposes should be doubled by the trustees. The children are all pro- 
vided for and do not seem to resent the will. 

The public-spirited attitude of the Hutchinson family 
deserves record. Owing to its extreme informality and the 
suicide of its author shortly after its signature, the will, we 
were informed, would probably not be upheld in a court of 
law, if the family chose to dispute it. But, with one accord, 
the widow and her children demanded that it should be 
carried out; one of the sons joining the Fabian Society to 
show his acquiescence. Moreover, the unmarried daughter, 
who had been given 1 500 by her father, and who was one 
of the trustees, demurred to the proposed purchase of an 
additional annuity for her mother as inconsistent with her 
father’s will, and, when overborne by the other trustees, 
made a will leaving her tiny fortune to Sidney and Edward 
Pease on a wide trust, practically in order to reimburse the 
original trust for the cost of the extra annuity. She died 
within a few months. 

Now the question is how to spend the money [I continue]. It 
might be placed to the credit of the Fabian Society and spent in the 
ordinary work of propaganda. Or a big political splash miglit be made 
with it— all the Fabian executive might stand for Parliament! and 
I. L.P. candidates might be subsidised in their constituencies. But 
neither of these ways seem to us equaPto the occasion. If it is mainly 
used for the ordinary work of the F.S., then it will merely save the 
pockets of ordinary subscribers or inflate the common work of the 
organisation for a few years beyond its normal growth. Moreover, 
mere propaganda of the shibboleths of collectivism is going on at a 

■ , ■,■.85 ■■■■ 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
rapid rate through the I.L.P. — the ball has been set running and it is 
rolling down the hill at a fair pace. It looks as if the great bulk of the 
working-men will be collectivists before the end of the century. But 
reform will not be brought about by shouting. What is needed is hard 
thinking. And the same objection applies to sending nondescript 
Socialists into Parliament. The Radical members are quite sufficiently 
compliant in their views: what is lacking in them is the leaven of 
knowledge. So Sidney has been planning to persuade the other trustees 
to devote the greater part of the money to encouraging research and 
economic study. His vision is to found, slowly and quietly, a London 
School of Economics and Political Science — a centre not only of lectures 
t)n special subjects, but an association of students who would be 
directed and supported in doing original work. Last evening we sat 
by the fire and jotted down a list of subjects which want elucidating; 
Issues of facts which need clearing up. Above all, we want the ordinary 
citizen to feel that reforming society is no light matter, and must be 
undertaken by experts specially trained for the purpose. . . . 

To which contemporary account I add a reminiscence 
which Professor Graham Wallas contributed to the Hand- 
book of the Students' Union in 1925: 

So many causes go to every effect that it is generally impossible to 
assign the invention of any important institution to a precise date. 
There is no such impossibility in the case of the School. It was invented 
at Borough Farm, a couple of miles south-west of Godaiming, early 
in the morning of a certain day in August 1894. . . . Mr. and Mrs. 
Webb, Mr. G. B. Shaw, and I were staying at the little farm. The 
day before, Mr. Webb learnt that, by the will of Mr. Henry Hutchin- 
son, he had been given the duty of directing the expenditure of a sum 
of money. He and Mrs. Webb woke up early, had a long discussion, 
and at breakfast told us that part of the money would be used to 
found a school in London on the lines of the licole Libre des Sciences 
Politiques in Paris. 

For two relatively unknown persons, without academic 
distinction, holding outrageously heterodox opinions in the 
very branch of knowledge that they were intent on pro- 
moting, and provided with no other resources than the 
few thousand pounds that Sidney could allocate from 
the Flutchinson Trust — ^such an enterprise seemed an im- 
pertinence. The first step was to find a young economist, 
indifferent to the frowns of the orthodox, sanguine, enter- 
86 


LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS 
prising, and, above all, sufficiently disinterested, to devote 
himself whole-heartedly to the creation of the proposed 
institution in return for a minute and uncertain salary. A 
queer accident had already marked out our man. A year or 
so previously, whilst writing The History of Trade Unionism, 
we had visited the Bodleian Library in order to discover 
whether among its miscellaneous collections it had happened 
to preserve any pamphlets, petitions or broadsheets making 
mention of combinations, other than those we had found in 
the British Museum, or in the well-equipped libraries at 
Dublin, Glasgow and Manchester. Although we had written* 
in advance to Bodley’s librarian, explaining our object, and 
also had provided ourselves with a personal letter of intro- 
duction from the Fellow of an Oxford College with whom 
we were staying, he received us with a discourtesy, not to 
say a downright rudeness, that we afterwards learned to be 
a personal characteristic. He, finally, repelled our enquiries 
with the remark that we should find all we required in 
Howell’s Conflicts of Capital and Labour\ At this point we 
were politely accosted by a young man, an obvious intel- 
lectual, with an attractive countenance and pleasant manner, 
who was reading in the library, and had noticed our discom- 
fiture. He quietly took us into a corner, saying he would 
himself get out everything we wanted. We learned who he 
was and read with appreciation the volume that he had 
published on English Trade and Finance chiefly in the lyth 
Century. The mutual attraction between W. A. S. Hewins 
and the Webbs was not similarity in political outlook. His 
views sprang from an instinctive sympathy with mediae- 
valism which led hirh spiritually, in the course of a few 
years, to join the Roman Catholic Church, and politically 
into a lifelong advocacy of a scientific tariff. We were demo- 
cratic collectivists, believing in the eventual triumph, in so 
far as social environment is concerned, of the principle of 
equality between man and man;*if only by the roundabout 
way of the “ inevitability of gradualness But there was a 
wide field of agreement for active co-operation. First, our 
common dislike of the so-called/Manchester School, of its 
, , , ,.87 .. 



MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
unverified deductive reasoning and abstract generalisations, 
of its apotheosis of “ the economic man ”, exclusively in- 
spired by the motive of pecuniary self-interest, and of its 
passionate defence of the rights of property as against the 
needs of humanity. And, secondly, our common faith in the 
practicability and urgent necessity of a concrete science of 
society implemented through historical research, personal 
observation and statistical verification. I quote from the 
account that Hewins has himself given of his eight years’ 
connection with the London School of Economics, at first a 
sickly infant, of doubtful parentage, born into an indifferent 
if not hostile world, for whose survival, through the first 
years of infancy and steady progress in size and stature, he 
was so largely responsible. 

It was at the close of 1 894 [W. A. S. Hewins writes], when I was 
giving a course of lectures at Hove on Social History, that Sidney Webb 
asked me if I would go and see him and his wife, as they wanted to 
consult me about the organisation of certain lectures. Sidney Webb 
was then chairman of the Technical Education Board of the London 
County Council. I found he had become executor of the will of a 
Mr. Henry Hutchinson, who had recently died leaving ,^10,000. . . . 
After consulting counsel, Webb had decided to devote part of this 
money to the foundation of an institution on the lines of the ficole des 
Sciences Politiques, Paris. Further, the Technical Education Board of 
the London County •Council decided to organise lectures on higher 
commercial subjects, and Webb wanted my advice as to the way in 
which these two schemes might be combined to form a new institution 
in London for the higher study of economics and political science 
and training suitable for those engaged in administration or business. 
I drew up this scheme and we discussed it at 41 Grosvenor Road. 
There was then no idea that I should o^anise the proposed new 
institution; Webb consulted me as an outside expert, as I have no 

doubt he consulted other people On March 29th, 1 895, 1 received 

another letter formally asking me to undertake the organisation of the 
proposed school, and accepted. 

The work proceeded rapidly. This depended mainly upon Sidney 
and Beatrice Webb and myselfj and I shall always look back on the 
period during which I worked with them as one of the happiest and 
most productive in my life. We met almost daily and never had a 
dispute during the eight years L was so closely associated with them. 
We desired that the lectures and investigations held at the School 


W. A. S. HEWINS 


should be representative of all branches of economics and political 
science, and no differentiation against persons was to be allowed on 
the grounds of sex, religion, or economic or political views. Full pro- 
vision was to be made for training for business administration, and 
for the central or local governments; for library work; the higher 
forms of research; the publication of monographs upon special subjects. 

The first business was the acquisition of suitable premises. We began 
on a small scale and took the ground floor of No. 9 John Street, 
Adelphi, for class work, and official business, and obtained the co- 
operation of the Society of Arts and the London Chamber of Com- 
merce for numej'ous courses of lectures. . . . Within two months of 
my acceptance of the Directorship of the Scliool, we were in a positio* 
to announce provisional arrangements for the autumn session. . . . 
We quickly moved from No. 9 John Street, Adelphi, to 10 Adelphi 
Terrace. As we did not require the two top floors, we let them to a 
great friend and benefactor. Miss Charlotte Payne Townshend, who 
soon afterwards became the wife of George Bernard Shaw. The 
generosity of Mr. Passmore Edwards and Lord Rothschild then 
enabled us to build a new School in Clare Market. Since tltose days 
the building has been vastly extended and the entrance changed from 
Clare Market to Houghton Street, and there the work is still carried 
on. Mrs. Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell generously helped by 
enabling us to give research studentships. . . . When I think of the 
first days of the School of Economics at No. 9 John Street, Adelphi, 
and contemplate the great organisation which has grown from those 
beginnings, I can only feel that I was privileged, along with my 
colleagues, to take part in a great romance. Di^iculties appeared from 
day to day, only to be overcome. Although we represented different 
schools of thought and were on different sides of politics, I cannot 
remember any incident which disturbed the harmony of our relations 
during those early years or which interfered in any way with the rapid 
progress of our great undertakiiig. . . J 

The truth impUcit«in W. A. S. Hewins’ demure and dis- 
creet statement lies in the fact that he and we were far too 
absorbed in pushing the School into a sound position to 
have either the time or the inclination to quarrel over 
political and economic dogmas. For there were overt and 
hidden enemies, not a few of thfem, intent on blocking the 
way for this new departure in university teaching, this new 
laboratory of sociological research. They were beaten, bless 

^ Tie ylpokgia of an Imperialist, hyVf. A. S.Hewias, •p'p. 

89 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
them! so I won’t mention names. If I did, the survivors 
might find themselves summoned to appear as defendants 
in a specially staged series of “ mock trials ”, for which high- 
brow performances, in aid of the funds of the London 
hospitals, the present London School of Economics [1931], 
with its 120 professors and lecturers and its 3000 students, 
has accidentally achieved a newspaper notoriety. 

Stray sidelights on Sidney’s day-by-day participation in 
building up the School appear in the MS. diary between 
1893' 1898. In the first of these, I introduce another of 

the founders of the School, described by a contemporary jour- 
nalist as “ the elusive personality of Mrs. Bernard Shaw ”. 
An apt term, for this lady has hitherto escaped publicity by 
dexterously dodging, on all occasions, behind the figure of 
her famous husband. But she could not escape my mental 
camera, the imaginary snapshots being duly translated into 
words in the MS. diary. 

Grosvemr Road, September 16/A, 1 896. — In person she is attractive, 
a large graceful woman with masses of chocolate-brown hair, pleasant 
grey eyes [“ They are green,” she observed, on reading this entry], 
matte complexion which sometimes looks muddy, at other times forms 
a picturesquely pale background to her brilliant hair and bright eyes. 
She dresses well; in flowing white evening robes she approaches 
beauty. At moments she is plain. By temperament she is an anarchist, 
feeling any regulation or rule intolerable, a tendency which has been 
exaggerated by her irresponsible wealth. She is romantic but thinks 
herself cynical. She is a Socialist and a Radical, not because she under- 
stands the collectivist standpoint, but because she is by nature a rebel. 
She has no snobbishness and no convention; she has “ swallowed all 
formulas ” but has not worked out principles of her own. She is fond 
of men and impatient of most women; bitterly resents her enforced 
celibacy but thinks she could not tolerate the matter-of-fact side of 
marriage. Sweet-tempered, sympathetic and genuinely anxious to 
increase the world’s enjoyment and diminish the world’s pain. . . . 
Last autumn she was introduced to us. We, knowing she was wealthy, 
and hearing she was socialistic, interested her in the London School of 
Economics. She subscribed ;^I000 to the library, endowed a woman’s 
scholarship, and has now taken the rooms over the School at Adelphi 
Terrace, paying us ,£300 a year for rent and service. It was on account 
of her generosity to our projects and “ for the good of the cause ” 


90 


MRS. BERNARD SHAW 


that I first made friends with her. To bring her more directly into our 
little set of comrades, I suggested that we should take a house together 
in the country and entertain our friends. To me she seemed at that 
time, a pleasant, well-dressed well-intentioned woman; I thought she 
would do very well for Graham Wallas! Now she turns Out to be 
an “ original ”, with considerable personal charm and certain volcanic 
tendencies. Graham Wallas bored her with his morality and learning. 
In a few days she and Bernard Shaw were constant companions. For 
the last fortnight, when the party has been reduced to ourselves and 
Shaw, and we have been occupied with our work and each other, 
they have been scouring the country together and sitting up late at 
night! ... • 

To cut a long story short, the two married each other in 
the summer of 1898, while we were journeying round the 
world studying Anglo-Saxon democracy. This meant that 
for some years the Bernard Shaws were “ at home ’’just one 
flight above the class-rooms and library of the new institu- 
tion. 

Here are other entries in the MS. diary between 1895 and 
1897: 

Grosvenor Road, April ()th, 1 895. — Have settled down quite com- 
fortably to work again, spending all mornings over our book and 
Sidney at the L.C.C. in the afternoon. Re-elected chairman of 
Technical Education Board, and giving a good deal of time to that 
and the starting of the London School of Economics and Political 
Science. Selected Hewins (a young Oxford don) as director, engaged 
Wallas and Schloss as Hutchinson lecturers, and Acworth and probably 
Foxwell as L.C.C. lecturers. Also, in treaty with Chamber of Com- 
merce and Society of Arts for rooms free of charge. Great good luck 
that Sidney happens to be chairman of Technical Education Board, 
able to combine the two sources. Promises well just at present, but 
impossible to tell whether the old gang won’t wake up and cry out 
before the institution is fairly started — ^which would delay, possibly 
baulk, our plans. ... 

Grosvenor Road, May 2 th, 1895. — ^The London School looks 
promising. Hewins has talked over the principal economists including 
Marshall and Edgeworth; we have Secured Foxwell; the Society of 
Arts and Chamber of Commerce are giving us their rooms free; the 
Technical Education Board has voted the ,£500 a year; the trustees 
are amenable — and apparently there is no hitch of any kind. I myself 
am anxious that the “ show lecture ” side should not be too much 


9 - 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 


developed, and that we should concentrate on getting research really 
done. For that object, I should like to gather round us all the able 
young men and women who are taking to economics, free their minds 
of prejudices and start them with a high ideal of accuracy and ex- 
haustiveness in work. If there is one thing I have believed “ from 
the beginning to the end ”, it is that no progress can be made except 
on the basis of ascertained fact and carefully thought out suggestion. 
Despite our theory, bias, creed and prejudice, we are all equally 
wandering in the labyrinth, searching for the clue of true facts to 
bring us out on the right side of each particular problem. It is pitiful 
to see the narrow sectarian view most Socialists take — binding them- 
selves hand and foot by a series of shibboleths. The working-men are 
especially afflicted with the theological temperament — the implicit 
faith in a certain creed which has been “ revealed ” to them by a sort 
of inner light. “ Why is it that I, a poor ignorant man,” said [H. W.] 
Hobart, one of the I.L.P., to me yesterday, “ have perceived ‘ the 
truth ’ whilst educated men with leisure and brains are still adhering to 
the old errors; unless I am right in saying they are mostly knaves ! ” . . . 

Welcombe, Christmas, 1895. — ^We have recovered from our feelings 
of depression at the widespread reaction — we have turned our hopes 
from propaganda to education, from the working-class to the middle- 
class. It is only fools who refuse to make to themselves a “ Paradise ” ! 
Having been beaten back in our endeavour to make a London Pro- 
gressive Party with a permanent majority, we are creating the London 
School of Economics and Political Science as a wider foundation than 
street-corner preaching. Hewins is making a success of the School-r- 
200 to 300 students attending the different classes and lectures. It is 
honestly scientific — served, indeed, by more individualist lecturers than 
collectivists — ^because the individualists are still the better men. But 
collectivists are encouraged — and the younger men and women are 
brought under collectivist influence. We ai'e to some extent trying our 
best to attract the clever men from tire universities; Sidney and Wallas 
lecturing at Oxford and Cambridge; and letting it be known that any 
one coming up who is interested in economics will have a warm 
welcome at Grosvenor Road. Leonard Hobhouse recruits for us at 
Oxford, the young Trevelyans at Cambridge. All this means a good 
deal of expenditure of time, sympathy, and alas! money. One cannot 
keep open house and live economically. 

Grosvenor Road, March %(yth, 1896. — -Our time, for the last five 
weeks, a good deal taken up with writing “ begging letters ” for the 
Political Science Library. This winter the rapid growth of the School 
of Economics made new preihises inevitable. But how to raise the 


LIBRARY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 


money? The Technicai Education Board which, under Sidney’s chair- 
manship, subsidises most of the lectures, could not be asked to find 
premises, the funds of the Hutchinson Trustees are not inexhaustible. 
A brilliant idea flashed across Sidney’s mind. We needed, for the use 
of the students, books and reports — why not appeal to the public to 
subscribe to a Library of Political Science? At first we thought we 
could get a millionaire to subscribe the whole amount on condition 
that he called it by his own name. In vain I flattered Passmore 
Edwards; in vain Sidney pressed Sir Hickman Bacon; in vain we wrote 
“ on spec ” to various magnates. The idea did not impress them. So 
we decided to scrape money together by small subscriptions. Sidney 
drafted a circular; Hewins secured the adhesion of the economists 
and then began a long process of begging letter writing. Sidney wrote 
to all the politicians; I raked up all my old ball partners, and between 
us we have gathered together a most respectable set of contributions — 
a list which is eloquent testimony to our respectability! Next week 
the appeal goes out for publication to the press. Even if we collect 
a comparatively small sum, the issue of the appeal has been a splendid 
advertisement for the School; and whatever we do get is so much 
spoil of the Egyptians. Not that we want to deceive the contributors. 
We are perfectly bona fide in our desire to advance economic know- 
ledge, caring more for that than for our own pet ideas. And anyone 
who knows us knows our opinions, and all the money has been 
practically sent to us personally— so that the contributors are fully 
aware in whom they are placing their confidence. [Eventually Passmore 
Edwards put down 10,000 for a new building and the L.C.C. 
allowed us to put it up on a vacant site.] , 

Here I may interpolate that there was another reason for 
starting the British Library of Political Science as a separate 
entity. Among the stray facts caught up in Sidney’s memory 
was the little-known Literary and Scientific Institutions Act 
of 1843, by which the Prince Consort had endeavoured to 
lead the British publfc in the direction of “ Wissenschaft 
This measure provided that such institutions should be 
exempt from local rates. The Treasury and the lawyers in 
due course saw to it that neither universities, nor municipal 
free libraries, came within the scope of the Act; but Sidney 
had observed that the London Library still enjoyed the 
exemption. Why not also a specialist libraiy in economic and 
political science.? On this precedent, exemption was actually 
granted for a number of years for the premises over which 


93 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
the library spread itself. Eventually, however, the local 
rating authority objected that the School, then become a 
constituent part of a university, was the dominant element in 
the occupation; and consequently withdrew the exemption. 

Grosvenor Road, July 14M, i8g6. — Making arrangements to start 
the London School in its new abode at Adelphi Terrace in October. 
Engaged a bright girl as housekeeper and accountant. Advertised for 
political science lecturer — and yesterday interviewed candidates — a 
nondescript set of university men. All hopeless from our point of 
view — all imagined that political science consisted of a knowledge of 
•Aristotle and modern! writers such as De Tocqueville — wanted to 
put the students tlirough a course of Utopias from More downwards. 
When Sidney suggested a course of lectures to be prepared on the 
different systems of municipal taxation, when Graham suggested a 
study of the rival methods of election from ad hoc to proportional 
representation, the wretched candidates looked aghast and thought 
evidently that we were amusing ourselves at their expense. One of 
them wanted to construct a “ Political Man ”, from whose imaginary 
qualities all things might be deduced; another wanted to lecture on 
“ Land under the 7 'udors ”, but had apparently read only the ordinary 
textbooks. Finally, we determined to do without our lecturer — to my 
mind a blessed consummation. It struck me always as a trifle difficult 
to teach a science which does not yet exist. 

Grosvenor Road, October Sih, 1 896. — The last fortnight we have 
been a good deal absorbed in preparing Adelphi T errace for the opening 
of the School. Found Hewins in a state of nervous collapse threatening 
severe illness. Sent him away with his wife and child, and took over 
the work of preparing for the coming term. Poor Sidney trudges over 
there directly after breakfast and spends his mornings with painters, 
plumbers and locksmiths, interviewing would-be students to whom 
he gives fatherly advice — comes home to lunch and then off to the 
L.C.C. In the interval of arranging the details of the housekeeping 
of the School, I am getting on slowly with the book, preparing the 
ground for work with Sidney next week when Hewins is back. 
Obvious that this institution will take up much of our time for the 
next few years. We are convinced it is worth while, in spite of the 
harassing character of the work. We want to create a centre of intel- 
lectual work and comradeship from which our views will radiate 
through personal intercourse. It remains to be seen how we succeed. 

Cliftonville, Margate, November 8/A, 1896. — School promising, but 
not assured. Successful classes and lectures are those giving purely 

94 


LONDON UNIVERSITY 

technical instruction to professionals — methods of statistics and railway 
economics — such subjects as commercial law and currency proving 
rather too abstract for the clerk to see in what way tliey make for his 
bread and butter. Pure learning and culture, such as growth of political 
theory, is at present a “ frost ” except for the attendance of the full 
student who has paid his guinea and attends all the lectures. It is this 
class we want to encourage — until we have a regular clientele of 300 
full students, our success will be problematic in the extreme. Hewins, 
who expected great things, has been depressed and irritable and it has 
taken all Sidney’s good temper and tact to keep things smooth. Hewins 
is a sanguine enthusiast — pulls hard and strong when he feels the 
stream with him. . . . However, with the rise of the students to 220» 
Hewins’ spirits have gone up and he is now again prophesying great 
things. But I see that tliis School, if it is to be made a permanent 
success, will mean a good deal of work and thought for Sidney and 
myself. 

The Argoed, ^January lith, 1897. — ^'Fhe London School is pro- 
gressing. Sidney has contrived to edge it in to any possible London 
University. It is still a speculation in money, students and output, but 
it promises well. 

The London University 

Out of the chairmanship of the T.E.B. and the founding 
of the L.S.E. sprang Sidney’s collaboration, in so far as the 
metropolis was concerned, with that foremost pioneer in 
modern university education — R. B. HMdane. And here I 
recall a potent personality. As lawyer, politician and ad- 
ministrator, R. B. Haldane came to be recognised as one in 
the first rank. An ardent amateur in philosophy, his writings 
reveal a passion for deducing from given premises first 
principles, justifying ^n emotional faith in the vital as against 
the mechanistic interpretation of the behaviour of man. 
Thus, in the secret places of his heart, Haldane believed in 
the spiritual interpretation of the universe.'^ But it was pre- 
eminently as a big public personage, in some ways the 

' The following passage from R. B. Haldafie’s autobiography bears out this view 
of his state of mind: “. . . My religious outlook was a genuine one. Its origin was 
a deep conviction that the more experience is spiritual the mote it is real. My old 
master, Lotze, had influenced me towards this conviction, and so had Hegel, whom I 
had been studying as closely as the state of my then knowledge permitted. VVith all 
this had come the further conviction that not only in philosophy but in science it 

95 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
biggest and most genial of his time, that he will be remem- 
bered by those who knew him. Plenitude, mental and 
physical, seemed to me his dominant feature, leading to a 
large intake and a like output. A big head on a bigger body 
— generous expenditure on the good things of life, not least 
among them choice edibles and the accompanying portions 
and potions of nicotine and alcohol, also of select quality, 
long hours of work; endless documents and books mastered 
and remembered; a multitude of interests, and an ever- 
widening circle of friends and acquaintances, extending from 
TEmperors and Kings, distinguished diplomatists, and famous 
men of science and learning, to representative manual 
workers and scientific and administrative experts of all sorts 
and kinds: any adequate picture of his life would entail a 
large and crowded canvas. He had a thin small voice, he 
was no platform orator; he did not cultivate the press; he 
was not a fluent journalist; thus he never became a popular 
figure; he was, in fact, the exact antithesis of a demagogue. 
Though, successively. Secretary of State for War and Lord 
Chancellor in two Governments, he remained throughout 
his life a behind-the-scenes man. Unattractive as a young 
man, he became as he grew in years, owing to his wit and 
wisdom and courteous manners, a social charmer, equally at 
home in the smartest society set or in drab groups of pro- 
fessional men and women. He had a notable gift for mani- 
pulating his fellow-men and for the organisation of business; 
for getting the best out of his subordinates ; mainly because, 
whilst being somewhat cynical, he was always good- 
humoured .and considerate, tempering rebuke and approval 
with kindly humour. Thtis, it was in personal intercourse 
that he excelled; in successful intrigue, always for public 
and not for private ends. About Haldane’s personal dis- 
interestedness there can be no doubt. He loved power, 

was true that no systematic knowledge is sufficient in itself unless it leads up and 
points to first principles. This doctriCe later became valuable to me even as a guide 
in work at the Bar. It did not help in the business of cross-examination. I was 
never good at that, nor in the conduct of iiisi prius cases. But it was invaluable in 
preparation for the presentation of ^reat questions to the Supreme Tribunals, where 
the judges were keen about first principles and were looking out for help from the ■ 
advocate ” {Rickard Bitrdon Haldane — dn Autobiography, pp. 29-30). 


96 


R. B. HALDANE 


especially the power of the hidden hand; or shall I say of 
the recognised hidden hand? But he frequently sacrificed his 
own prospects if he could thereby serve a friend or promote 
a cause he believed in. To sum up my memories: a powerful 
and beneficent personality, a great citizen, above all a loyal 
and generous colleague. 

Amongst all our common friends, R. B, Haldane takes 
precedence alike in the length of his friendship and in its 
bearing on the Other One’s administrative and political 
career. He had known each of us before we knew each 
other; and, as he described, with a humorous gloss, in his’ 
autobiography, he had “ covered ” by the accommodating 
r 61 e of a desirable suitor, Sidney Webb’s appearance in my 
father’s house when we were, unbeknown to my family, 
engaged to be married. Our first intrigue with Haldane! 
After thirty years of uninterrupted friendship the two found 
themselves in 1924 colleagues in the first Labour Cabinet. 
It was Haldane who created and fostered the flattering 
“ Webb myth ” that flowered so agreeably and advantage- 
ously for us and our schemes in the first decade of the 
twentieth century. Even when the myth, being a myth, 
faded away, to be replaced by the myth of an " exploded 
myth ”, he remained a steadfast fellow-conspirator for the 
public good. What bound us together as,associates was our 
common faith in a deliberately organised society; our com- 
mon belief in the application of science to human relations 
with a view to betterment. Where we differed was in the 
orientation of political power. Haldane believed more than 
we did in the existing governing class; in the great per- 
sonages of Court, Cabinet and City. We staked our hopes 
on the organised working-class, served and guided, it is true, 
by an elite of unassuming experts who would make no claim 
to superior social status, but would content themselves with 
exercising the power inherent in superior knowledge and 
longer administrative experience.* 

Here is an entry in the MS. diary giving my contempo- 
rary impression of Haldane’s personality before he had 
become a political personage: 

-■ 97 . ■ . . «■ ' 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 

Grosvemr Road, May yd, 1897. — Haldane here for a Sunday. 
Difficult to estimate what amount of influence that man exercises in 
public affaire. He has never held office; but during the last Liberal 
Government he was the chief instigator of their collectivist policy — 
serving to carry information and suggestions from specialists like our- 
selves to tile heads of departments. He was also responsible for many 
of their appointments. In this Parliament he is in constant confidential 
intercourse with Balfour and other Conservatives over the many non- 
party questions dealt with by a Government — ^atid even in some purely 
political questions his advice is asked. He attracts confidence where 
he is at all liked — once on friendly terms, you feel absolutely secure 
nthat he will never use personal knowledge to advance his own public 
career to the detriment of any friend. The rank and file of his own 
party dislike him intensely; partly because he detaches himself from 
party discipline and acts according to his own inner light, and partly 
because he seems dominated by some vague principle which they do 
not understand and which he does not make intelligible. His bulky 
form, and pompous ways, his absolute lack of masculine vices or 
“ manly ” tastes (beyond a good dinner), his superiority and constant 
attitude of a teacher, his curiously woolly mind would make him an 
unattractive figure if it were not for the beaming kindliness of his 
nature, his warm appreciation of friends and a certain pawky humour 
with which he surveys the world. And there is pathos in his personality. 
In spite of the successful professional life, the interest and entertain- 
ment of constantly mixing with the most powerful minds and in the 
most stirring affairs, the enjoyment of luxurious living to a man with 
a first-rate digestion, he is a restless, lonely man — in his heart still 
worshipping the woman who jilted him seven years ago. All the 
sadder that genuine affectionateness — pleasure in intimate and entirely 
confidential relations, a yearning towards some sort of permanence — 
is i-eally the strongest side of Haldane’s character. He was made to be 
a husband, father and close comrade. He has to put up with pleasant 
intercourse with political friends and political foes. 

When we are together we are constantly discussing hotly. He has 
been converted, in a sort of vague metaphysical way, to the principles 
of collectivism. But, whether it is that his best brains are given to his 
professional work, or whetlier it is that he is incapable of working out 
or even fully comprehending concrete principles, he never sees the right 
side of a question until you jjave spent hours dinning it into him. 
Even then he does not admit it, and will go on bringing entirely 
irrelevant matters wilfully into the discussion in order to “ keep you 
off ”, so to speak. But it is quite wortli while hotly debating the 
question with him, because he always comes right in the end, and 

98 


RECONSTRUCTION OF LONDON UNIVERSITY 

when you meet him a month hence he repeats your own arguments. 
As a retort he would say that we were narrow and limited to our own 
questions, quite' forgetting their proportionate value to other wider 
issues — and that it is impossible for the cultivated “representative” 
to do more than grasp certain large principles. Further, that mere 
logic and mere information are all very well, but they are of little 
service to move the world without a great personality and long- 
continued knowledge of affairs. With a pretty significant hint that we 
have neither, he always ends an encounter. “ What we think to-day, 
you will think to-morrow ” is usually my last hit. All the same, we 
two and he remain genuinely fond of each other. 

Now it so happened that R. B. Haldane and Sidney* 
united by friendship, made a good combination for the task 
they undertook : to get carried into law the necessary Bill for 
the reorganisation of the London University. To begin with, 
they were, in their several ways, both entirely free from the 
subtly pervading influence of the Oxford and Cambridge of 
those days, with their standards of expensive living and 
enjoyable leisure, and their assumption of belonging to an 
aristocracy or governing class. Haldane had graduated at 
Edinburgh and Gbttingen, among students living sparely in 
uncomfortable lodgings, undistracted by games, who looked 
forward to no other existence than one of strenuous brain- 
work. He believed intensely in the university, not only as a 
place for “ great teaching ” but also as pi source of inspira- 
tion by “ great minds ”, producing, in the choicer spirits, a 
systematic devotion to learning and research. The Other 
One, on the other hand, with little formal schooling, had 
known what it was to gain education in adolescence whilst 
earning a livelihood; he realised the advantages of guidance 
and attraction that w^re, by a series of university examina- 
tions, brought to bear on myriads of lonely students, to most 
of whom a full-time undergraduate career, not to mention a 
residential university, was not within sight. Haldane, to gain 
his higher aim, would willingly have scrapped the system of 
external examinations by whiclf alone London University 
awarded its coveted degrees. In his eyes, even the best- 
equipped public library, and the most highly organised 
evening classes, counted for nothing in comparison with the 

99 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 
inspiration he had found in personal intimacy with Stuart 
Blackie and Lotze. But he realised, under Sidney’s influence, 
if not the undesirability, at any rate the political unpractica- 
bility, of overthrowing what had already taken deep roots. 
He, accordingly, designed a scheme of combining in a single 
university, of a new type, all three elements, namely: the 
external students influenced by a system of examinations 
which could be improved; an organised hierarchy of evening- 
classes which, so far as London was concerned, the Technical 
Education Board was raising to the highest grade ; and the 
"^roup of autonomous colleges, in which a professoriate in no 
way inferior to those of Germany and Scotland could be 
trusted to inspire self-selected groups of earnest students in 
every subject of study and research. For such a university 
in the greatest of all metropolitan cities, the two conspirators 
believed that the necessary millions of money would be forth- 
coming; and the experience of the past thirty years has 
justified their faith. Possibly, not without its effect on the 
negotiations (and these I leave Haldane to describe) was 
the promise which Sidney induced the London County 
Council to make that, out of the technical education 
“ whiskey money ”, the reconstructed university should be 
straight away endowed with £ 10,000 a year towards the 
support of four of ijs faculties, namely, science, the education 
side of arts, and two new faculties of engineering and 
economics, on condition that neither evening students nor 
the growing polytechnics were excluded. 

For me [relates Haldane in his account of these years] the absorbing 
political subject was higher education. ... I approached Balfour about 
the University of London. It was then a nlere Board for examining 
outside students who got from it external degrees by means of examina- 
tions without teaching. Valuable as the work of extending degrees 
to external students had been in the past, it was no longer sufficient. 
The system lent itself to the purposes of the crammers, and tlie school 
teachers in particular used it fpr obtaining what were virtually’ little 
more than trade-marks. The real purpose of university training, tlie 
development of the mind in the atmosphere of the teaching university, 
where teachers and taught could come into close relation, was lacking. 

So strongly was this felt that many of the professors in the London 


LONDON UNIVERSITY BILL 


colleges had set their hearts on the establishment of a second, the 
professorially-run university, with no external examinees at all. I knew 
that the opposition to so lar-reaching a measure would be too strong 
to overcome in the then indifferent state of public opinion. I saw 
that, as a first step at all events, the only way was to pass an Act 
enlarging the existing University of London by giving it a powerful 
teaching side. This might be relied on in the end to absorb the other 
side by reason of its quality. Of this opinion, also, was my friend 
Sidney Webb, who as the successful chief of the Technical Education 
Board of the London County Council had great opportunities of study- 
ing the practical problem. Sidney Webb and I took counsel together. 
He was a very practical as well as a very energetic man. We laid sieg^ 
to the citadel. We went round to pereon after person who was prominent 
in the administration of the existing University. Some listened, but 
others would not do so and even refused to see us. In the end, we 
worked out what was in substance the scheme of the London Uni- 
versity Act of 1898. The scheme was far from being an ideal one. It 
provided by way of compromise for a Senate which was too large to 
be a really efficient supreme governing body for the new composite 
University, and it had other shortcomings of which we were well 
aware. But it did set up a teaching university, although Convocation, 
with its control of the external side, would remain unduly powerful. 
We saw that the scheme thus fashioned was the utmost we could hope 
for the time to carry, in the existing state of public opinion about 
higher education in London. I went to Balfour as soon as we were 
ready, and e.xplained what we had done and why we had done it in 
this form. He was both interested and sympathetic, and, after con- 
sideration, said that his Government would take the matter up and 
introduce a Bill fashioned on our lines, although the Government 
could not pledge itself to stand or fall by it. The Bill was ultimately, 
after much consultation with me, introduced to the House of Commons 
by Sir John Gorst on behalf of the Government. He explained it to 
the House, and concluded by saying that it was on the whole a Bill 
which the Government recommended. 

There was a storm. Sir John Lubbock, the member for the Uni- 
versity, opposed it in the interest of the convocation by whose members 
he had been elected. Sir Charles Dilke and others attacked it fiercely 
on various grounds. For some time in the course of the discussion not 
a speech was made in its favour, and the prospects of the Bill seemed 
hopeless. I sprang to my feet when an opportunity at last offered, and 
I spoke for once like one inspired. I told the House of Commons of 
the scandal that the metropolis of the Empire should not have a teach- 
ing university to which students from distant regions might come as 

lOI 


MUNICIPAL AND UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION 

to the centre for them of that Empire. I showed how far we were 
behind continental nations, and what a menace this was to our scientific 
and industrial prospects in days to come. I knew every inch of the 
ground, and displayed its unsound condition. We were far away from 
the days in which a step forward had been made by calling into being 
the examining body named London University, a creation which 
had given degrees by examination to those whom the Church had in 
the old days shut out from university status. That reform was in its 
time a most valuable service to the state, but it was a service which 
had become superseded in the light of new standards in university 
education which demanded much more.* 

In the course of the next few months, in circumstances 
which taxed to the uttermost Haldane’s ingenuity and per- 
suasiveness, the Bill became law. In the summer of 1897, 
the Government appointed a small executive Commission to 
draft the constitution and statutes — a vitally important body 
which happened to have as one of its leading members my 
old friend Dr. Mandell Creighton (the first President of the 
School of Economics), who had just been appointed Bishop 
of London ; and, for its chairman, an old acquaintance, Lord 
Davey. In my diary, I find an entry summarising the doings 
of the spring of 1897. 

Grosvenor Road, Jtdy 26/A, 1897. — Sidney and Haldane rushing 
about London trying to get all parties to agree to a Bill for London 
University, If it goes "through, it will be due to Haldane’s insistence 
and his friendship with Balfour — but the form of the Bill — the 
alterations grafted on the Cowper Commission Report are largely 
Sidney’s. He thinks he has got all he wants as regards the Technical 
Education Board and London School of Economics. The Commission 
appointed to carry the Act out is largely favourable, or at any rate 
“ susceptible ” to right influence. . . . ’' 

’ Richard Burdm Haldane — An Autobiography, Yi. iri,-']. 


102 


CHAPTER III 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
1892-1898 

Hitherto I have described our specialised activities : first 
the joint enquiry into British Trade Unionism and the 
consequent publication of The History of Trade Unionism in 
1894, and Industrial Democracy in 1898, and secondly the 
administrative work of the Other One on the L.C.C., his 
chairmanship of the Technical Education Board for six 
years, and the foundation of the London School of Eco- 
nomics and Political Science. I turn now to the outermost 
strand of our activities: the propaganda of Fabian col- 
lectivism, within the social and political life of our day. 

Let me first remind the reader of the outstanding political 
events of Great Britain during the first spell of Our Partner- 
ship, 1892-98. For six years prior to this period the Salisbury 
administration held office, but it depended for its majority 
on the seventy Liberal Unionist members led by Joseph 
Chamberlain ; and he, it is needless to add, gave the Govern- 
ment loyal support in return for an effective influence on 
home and foreign affairs. In July 1892, the month of our 
marriage, a general election left the Conservatives and 
Liberal Unionists in a minority in the House of Commons. 
“ There never was so depressed an election ”, one historian 
relates. “ The country was tired of the Unionist Govern- 
ment, but without enthusiasm for its successors. The Irish 
quarrel had taken all the glamour out of Mr. Gladstone’s 
crusade ; British Radicals saw no prospect for the causes they 
had at heart. By heroic efforts Liberals and Irish scraped 
together a majority of 40 which, as their opponents pointed 
out, left them absolutely at the mercy of the Irish party in 
the teeth of a British majority against Home Rule.”* “ The 

* Great Britain, Empire and Commonnaealth, jS86-xg3S, by J. A. Spender, 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
interlude of Liberal administration from i ith August 1892 
to 24th June 1895 ”3 ^I’loth.er Liberal his- 

torian, “ was only half the length of a normal Government’s 
life in those days; and the two Cabinets which filled it were 
paralysed for want of any real majority either at West- 
minster, or in the constituencies,” * 

But this was not all, Mr, Gladstone, whom the Queen was 
compelled to accept as Prime Minister, was wholly out of 
sympathy with the projects of social reform vaguely adum- 
brated in the Newcastle Programme, upon which the election 
liad been fought; proposals more clearly set forth by the 
little group of Liberal collectivists led by Haldane, Acland, 
Asquith and Grey,^ Had not the great man asserted, during 
his last administration, that unemployment was actually an 
improper subject even for discussion by the representatives 
of the people, seeing that it was a necessary incident in 
profit-making enterprise, and, therefore, should not and 
could not be dealt with by the political state? Moreover, 
Gladstone was an anti-militarist and anti-imperialist, and 
objected to increasing expenditure on the armed forces 
almost as much as he did on social reform. Hence, when the 
Home Rule Bill was cast out by the House of Lords in the 
autumn of 1893, and his colleagues objected to a dissolution on 
that question, still more when in the spring of 1894 the First 
Lord of the Admiralty proposed an addition to the Navy, 
Gladstone threatened to resign : “ He had supposed that there 
were several members of the Cabinet who shared his views 
and would follow his example, and it was a shock to him 
to discover in the end that he stood alone. ‘ Resigned! ’ 
he said in after years, ‘ I did not resign, I was put out.’ ” ^ 

There ensued a sharp and short struggle, reflected in the 
entries in my diary, between those Liberal M.P.’s who were 
at once collectivists and imperialists, who favoured Lord 

’ England 1870-1^14, by R. C. Kt Ensor, 1936, p. zog. 

* Haldane was the only one who approached to a Socialist or remained a true 
collectivist. The others could more properly be termed “radical reformists”. The 
same group, together with Lord Rosebery, formed the “Limps” or Liberal 
Imperialists. (Ed.) 

3 Great Britain, Empire and Commonmealth, 1886-1033, by J. A. Spender, p. 69, 

104 


FABIAN SOCIETY 


Rosebery as Premier, on the one hand; and, on the other, 
the laisser-faire and anti-imperialist group, who insisted that 
Sir William Harcourt should not only lead the House of 
Commons, but also be Prime Minister. Apparently, the 
Queen took the matter into her own hands and sent for 
Rosebery. The Rosebery administration, with its chief 
standing aloof and resentful, lasted thirteen months and was 
terminated, in June 1895, ^7 ^ catch vote on whether or not 
we had a sufficient stock of cordite! Whereupon Salisbury 
took office and dissolved Parliament, gaming a majority of, 
1 52 over the opposition (340 Conservatives and 7 1 Liberal 
Unionists, against 177 Liberals and 82 Irish Nationalists). 
The Liberal Unionist leaders accepted office in the Con- 
servative Government, and for the next seven years the 
national policy at home and abroad was directed by Salisbury, 
Chamberlain and Balfour. 

Such was the political framework within which we carried 
on our propaganda of Fabian collectivism. But what exactly 
was this peculiar brand of Socialism? In answer to this ques- 
tion, I give a few extracts from a lecture by Sidney Webb on 
“ Socialism: True and False ”, given to the Fabian Society 
in January 1894, on the tenth anniversary of its foundation. 

Though we took the title of the Fabian Sociejiy * in January 1884, 
it was two or three years before we had quite found out what our 
instinctive choice of a title really portended. In 1884, the Fabian 
Society, like the other socialist organisations, had its enthusiastic young 
members — aye, and old ones too — ^who placed all their hopes on a 
sudden tumultuous uprising of a united proletariat, before whose 
mighty onrush, kings, landlords and capitalists would go down like 
ninepins, leaving society quietly to re-sort itself into utopia. The date 
for this social revolution was sometimes actually fixed for 1889, the 
centenary of the opening of the French Revolution. . . . It was against 
all thinking and teaching of this catastrophic kind that the Society 
gradually came to set its face — not, as I believe, because we were any 
less in earnest in our warfare against existing evils, or less extreme in 

• The explanatory quotation of the name “ Fabian ” is given on the title-page of 
the early Fabian Tracts (see No. 7): “ For the right moment you must wait, as 
Fabius did most patiently when warring against Hannibal, though many censured 
his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your 
waiting will be in vain, and fruitless 

IP 5 . T'" 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
our remedies, but because we were sadly and sorrowfully driven to the 
conclusion that no sudden or simultaneous transformation of society 
from an individualist to a collectivist basis was possible or even thinkable. 

On the other hand, we had but little sympathy with schemes for 
the regeneration of mankind by the establishment of local utopias, 
whether in Cumberland or in Chili. To turn our back on the unearned 
increment and the machine industry seemed a poor way of conquering 
them. We had no faith in the recuperative qualities of spade husbandry, 
or in any devices for dodging the law of rent. In short, we repudiated 
the common assumption that socialism was necessarily bound up with 
insurrectionism, on the one hand, or utopianism, on the other, and 
•■we set to work to discover for ourselves and to teach to others how 
practically to transform England into a social democratic common- 
wealth What we Fabians aim at is not the sub-division of property, 

whether capital or land, but the control and administration of it by 
the representatives of the community. It has no desire to see the Duke 
of Bedford replaced by five hundred little Dukes of Bedford under 
the guise of enfranchised leaseholders, but prefers to assert the claim 
of the whole community to the land, and especially to that unearned 
increment of value which the whole community creates. It has no 
vain dream of converting the agricultural labourer into a freeholder, 
farming his own land, but looks to the creation of parish councils 
empowered to acquire land for communal ownership, and to build 
cottages for the labourers to rent. The path to its town utopia is that of 
Mr. Chamberlain’s early career, though not of his political programme 
— unlimited municipalisation of local public services and a wide ex- 
tension of corporate activity. London, in particular, has caught up the 
old Birmingham cry of “ high rates and a healthy city ”, but with a 
significant difference. Our modern economists tell us that the first 
source of public revenue for a rising city is the growing rental value 
of its site, which at present falls into private hands. Hence, the new 
demand for the gradual municipalisation by taxation of urban land 
values — a demand still so little understood by most of our statesmen 
that they fondly imagine it to have sometfiing to do with a division 
of rates between house-owner and occupier. It is coming to be re- 
membered, in short, tliat Bentham himself, the great father of political 
radicalism, urged that taxation need not be limited to the supply of 
funds for the bare administrative expenses of the state, but that, wisely 
handled, it also supplied a means of gradually securing the great end 
of equality of opportunity to every citizen. 

For the rest, the Fabian Society studiously avoided any 
quotations from Karl Marx, preferring indeed Robert 
ro6 


FABIAN SOCIETY 


Owen; they translated economics and collectivism into the 
language of prosaic vestrymen and town councillors. They 
dealt largely in statistics; they talked about amending 
factory acts, and municipalising gas and water supplies. 
Above all, they were prolific of facts, ideas and practical pro- 
jects of reform. They were, indeed, far more extreme in 
their opinions and projects than their phrases conveyed to 
the ordinary citizen. Their summary of Socialism, which was 
found in the ensuing decade to have a strong appeal, was 
put in the following terms. It comprised, they said, essen-» 
tially collective ownership wherever practicable; collective 
regulation everywhere else; collective provision according to 
need for all the impotent and sufferers; and collective taxa- 
tion in proportion to wealth, especially surplus wealth. ‘ 

At this point I had better confess that in the propaganda 
of Fabian collectivism, 1892-98, I was more an observer 
than a colleague. For it was with some misgiving that I 
joined the Fabian Society on my engagement to Sidney 
Webb. To discover the processes of social organisation, to 
observe and record the behaviour of man in society, had 
been my primary object in life; and it seemed to my cautious 
temperament that any pronounced views about social changes 
to be aimed at, might hamper these researches; partly 

' Rather than give my own view of the place of the Fabian Society in British 
politics, I quote the estimate of G. M. Trevelyan in his well-known British History 
m the Nineteenth Century, p. 403: 

“ The third current of fin de sikle Socialism, and the most important, was the 
Fabian doctrine, specially connected with Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb. The Fabian 
Society was founded in 1883. Its name recalls a Roman general whose motto was 
‘ slow but sure ’. Eschewing revolution, and intent on the actualities of England at 
the end of the nineteenth century, Fabians exonerated socialists from the heavy 
obligation of reading Karl MaA. Without dogmatising as to the ultimate future of 
industrial organisation, they preached practicS possibilities, here and now — muni- 
cipal socialism and state control of conditions of tbour. Equally far from Marx and 
Morris, they left the New Jerusalem alone, and sought to impregnate the existing 
forces of society with collectivist ideals. 

“ The Fabians became experts in bringing electoral, journalistic and personal 
pressure to bear on local bodies, and on the Liberal or Conservative government of 
the hour — somewhat after the methods of action of Francis Place, but with the 
added power of the democratic franchise. By the end of the century it is in Fabianism 
that we find the nearest approach to a body of doctrine directly affecting the laws 
and administration of the time, like the doctrines of Bentham and Mill in the past. 
The Fabians were intelligence officers without an army — there was no Fabian jJarty 
in parliament — but they influenced the strategy and even the direction of the great 
hosts moving under other banners." 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
because it might bias my own selection of facts and hypo- 
theses, but also because the way of discovery might be 
blocked by those who held contrary opinions. As years went 
by neither of these objections held good. I soon realised 
that complete detachment from current politics was im- 
practicable unless you were indifferent to the public welfare, 
or had come to the conclusion that human society was 
beyond human control. For the longer I studied the social 
organisation in which I had been born and bred, the stronger 
.became my conviction that the distribution of power and 
wealth among my fellow-citizens was being controlled, and 
very deliberately controlled, in the interests of the propertied 
classes, to the detriment of the vast majority of the people, 
thus preventing any adequate rise in the health and happi- 
ness, the manners and the culture, of the community as a 
whole. Nor did I find that Fabian collectivism stood in the 
way of getting information. Students, as we happened to 
be in those years, of working-class organisation and local 
government, an avowed preference for legal enactment and 
municipal development helped more than it hindered our 
quest for knowledge. For the rest, the British governing 
class of the 'eighties and 'nineties, enveloped in self-com- 
placency and enjoying the consciousness of power and a 
leisurely life in luxurious surroundings, was innately in- 
different to the workings of the intellect. To the typical 
politician and lawyer, landlord and financier, to the wealthy 
manufacturer and trader, elaborate and accurate descrip- 
tions of the poverty of the poor, such as Charles Booth’s 
Life and Labour of the People in London^ or carefully reasoned 
arguments in favour of specific reforms, seemed equally 
negligible. Men were, and always would be, governed by 
their appetites or by conventional views of right or wrong; 
if they were exceptionally self-controlled and intelligent, 
they might be guided by. their pecuniary self-interest and 
their desire to found a family; in which case they would be 
promptly enrolled in the governing class. Hence the group 
of young intellectuals who were, between 1885 and 1892, 
getting resolutions passed by Liberal associations and 
108 


FABIAN MANIFESTO 


Radical working-men’s clubs, in favour of the eight-hour 
day, old-age pensions, a minimum wage for those in public 
employment, and increased health and educational services ; 
or who were reading papers at the British Association and 
at other reputable gatherings on The Difficulties of Individual- 
ism, The Necessary Basis of Society and The Transition to Social 
Democracy, were welcomed with benevolent smiles and kindly 
words by distinguished members of the governing clique. 
Some Fabian phrases were actually incorporated in the 
platform speeches and election addresses of the leaders of^ 
the Liberal Party at the general election of July 1892, Had 
not Sir William Harcourt proclaimed from a public platform 
that “ we are all Socialists now ”? had not the rising Liberal 
lawyer, H. H. Asquith, solemnly stated in his election 
address: “ I am one of those who believe that the collective 
action of the community may and ought to be employed 
positively as well as negatively; to raise as well as to level; 
to equalise opportunities no less than to curtail privileges; 
to make the freedom of the individual a reality and not a 
pretence ^ 

The following entries from the MS. diary show rapid 
disillusionment with the policy of permeation leading to the 
publication, in the Fortnightly Review of November 1893, 
of the Fabian Manifesto entitled: “ T© Your Tents, O 
Israel ”, drafted by Bernard Shaw.* 

December iSfth, 1892. — Have seen something of politicians [I write 
a few months after our marriage]. Haldane and Asquith to dinnerj 
Sydney Buxton and Acland coming later on. ... All the younger men 
in the Government hard at work introducing administrative reforms, 
yet uncertain whether tlie’old gang will not dictate a policy of evading 
all legislative proposals. No leader to the new reform movement; a 
mere upheaval in favour of doing something, met by tight sitting on 
the part of the provincial capitalists. And when they do give way, they 
give way on the wrong points; they are as likely as not to skedaddle in 
face of some preposterous demand, whilst refusing even to consider 
some quite sound scheme. And the result is that the political world 

' Memories and Reflections, by the Earl of Oxford and Asquith, K.B., vol. i. 

P- II3- 

2 But very considerably peppered by us with sallies which passed as chai-acter- 
istically Shavian.— -G. B, S. 


109 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 


is simply chaotic at present, at least on the reform side. Men like 
Balfour know well enough what they are playing for and succeed in 
leading a compact party. If chaos continues they will have a still larger 
mass of voters. . . . 

Grasvenor Rd., Christmas Day, 1893. — ^The excitement of the 
autumn [I write exactly twelve months afterwards] has been the issue 
of the Fabian Manifesto which for a week or so loomed large to us. 
With Shaw’s reproduction of Sidney’s facts, it boomed in the press; 
the Tory democratic papers quoted it freely; the Radical papers 
denounced it; only the Spectator and the Standard refusing to notice 
, it out of sheer perplexity how to deal with it. I am not sure whether 
after the event I altogether approve of it. There is some truth in 
Graham Wallas’s original observation that we were rushed into it by 
fear of being thought complacent and apathetic by the Independent 
Labour Party. Whether it is wise to do anything simply from fear of 
being left behind? But tliat was not the whole of the motive. All 
through the spring Sidney and Shaw have been feeling the need of 
some strong outspoken words on the lack of faith and will to go 
forward manifested by the majority of the Cabinet. They could hardly 
go on supporting the Liberals if these were deliberately fooling the 
Progressives with addled promises. Perhaps the Fabian junta chose 
the right time to speak: anyway they said only what they thought; 
they spoke to the world exactly what they had been saying in private. 
So far the manifesto was justified, . . . 

It would be an impertinence to summarise the words of 
Bernard Shaw. Here are a series of extracts which give the 
gist of the Fabian Manifesto; 

It is not for the Fabian Society to betray the secret history of the 
desperate efforts made from 1886 to 1892 to bring the Liberal Party 
up to the poll in some semblance of democratic condition, That red 
spectre, the Newcastle Programme, vanished on the morrow of the 
general election, having served its turn; and nobody now wants to 
hear the story of the infinite pains with which it was raised and 
brought to the uneasy bedside of Mr. Gladstone himself. The heroic 
.speeches made by the Liberal leaders when, rallying to the revol utionary 
flag, blazoned with payment of membere, death (by taxation) to the 
ground landlord and royalty owner, home rule for London and relief 
to the ratepayer, and municipalisation of every monopoly under the 
sun, they hauled it to the high top-gallant of the great Liberal Party 
amid the inspiring strains of “ we are all Socialists now”, are not 
usually alluded to at present, having also served their turn; and it is 


FABIAN MANIFESTO 


not for the Fabian Society to spoil a stirring page of political history 
by bringing the public behind the scenes to see those eagle-eyed states- 
men carried to the platform, kicking, screaming and protesting, in 
the arms of the collectivist radicals of London, who offered them the 
alternative of saying as they were told or spending another seven years 
in opposition. As the world knows, they said as they were told; and 
they just scraped through at the election by abandoning Home Rule to 
the Irish constituencies, and ruffing “ Integrity of the Empire ” and 
Tory democracy with collectivist trumps conveyed from the sleeves of 
the London Liberal and Radical Union and the Fabian Society. 

There follows a detailed exposure of the reactionary, 
doings of the Whig Ministers, notably in the administration 
of the Post Office under Arnold Morley, and of Public Works 
under Shaw-Lefevre : too long to quote. 

Lord Spencer, at the Admiralty [proceeds the indictment], also had 
his opportunities. The scandal of the starvation wages at the Deptford 
and other victualling yards had become too great to be any longer 
ignored, . . . The Government’s brand-new Labour Department made 
him a special report as to what he ought to pay, and brought forcibly 
to his notice the damning facts as to what he did pay. Like Mr. Acland 
in the Science and Art Department, he might frankly have accepted 
for all the dockyard workmen the recognised standard rates of the 
various trade unions concerned. Like the London County Council, he 
might have resolved to pay no wage on which a family could not 
decently exist. He might have put a stop to the practice, recently 
exposed in a tragic case, of not paying the labourers until their wages 
are a week overdue, thus driving them to the pawnbroker to borrow 
at heavy interest the money due to them by the British Government, 
which pays them no interest at all on the compulsory loan. He might 
have “ abolished ” the middleman who at Deptford drove poor Pluck 
to suicide at the very moment of the departmental enquiry, and taken 
all the Admiralty workmen into direct public employment. He might 
have established the eight hours’ day in all the government dock- 
yards. . . . Had Mr. Fowler been but a little less than a quarter-of-a- 
century behind his time, what a field he would have found in other 
directions ! Had he been really in sympathy with the House of Com- 
mons’ repeatedly expressed desire to put down sweating, what a 
circular he could have issued to all the local authorities in the kingdom, 
commending to their notice the model clauses of the London County 
Council; stimulating them to the establishment of an eight hours’ day 
for all their employees; and urging them to follow the House of 
Commons in abandoning the competitive rate for a living wage! And 


ill 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

with local authorities everywhere eager for guidance on the menacing 
problem of the unemployed, what really democratic president of the 
local government board would have let himself be put to open shame 
by ignoring the very existence of acts of parliament enabling the 
guardians to set the poor to work, or have refused to come to any 
decision as to whether local authorities should or should not be allowed 
to try their own experiments in this direction ! 

But all the Ministers are not found wanting : there are 
words of encouragement, or are they words of apology, for 
those members of the Cabinet who were deemed to be 
^ permeated with Fabianism : 

Now Mr. Asquith and Mr. Acland, like Mr. Sydney Buxton, hold 
their portfolios as representatives of that Liberal dilution of collectivist 
radicalism which made itself felt in the last parliament on the memor- 
able occasion when the three gentlemen in question, with Sir Edward 
Grey and Mr. Haldane, suddenly checkmated a reactionary Whig job 
put forward under the specious title of leaseholds enfranchisement, to 
the unspeakable astonishment and confusion of the Liberal leaders, 
whose sole objection to the measure was that it was too advanced. 
Without the collectivist movement outside parliament it is certain that 
Messrs. Asquith, Acland, Sydney Buxton and Sir Edward Grey would 
never have displaced members of the “ old gang ” in the ministry, 
and one can only surmise the intensity of the friction that must have 
been created in the Cabinet between administrators of their way of 
thinking and a reactionist like Sir William Harcourt holding the purse- 
strings. The situation is so obvious that the Fabian Society may, 
without indiscretion, say that when the secret history of Mr. Glad- 
stone’s administration comes to be written, it will be found that since 
the very formation of the Cabinet, the progressive party, led by 
Mr. Asquith and Mr. Acland, and joined by Lord Rosebery, Lord 
Ripon, Mr. Mundella and Mr. Bryce, has been hampered, blocked, 
and eventually overborne, firstly, by Mr. Gladstone’s complete absorp- 
tion in Home Rule; secondly, by the active hostility of such seasoned 
Whigs as Sir William Harcourt and Mr. Fowler; thirdly, by the 
doctrinaire “ Manchesterism ” and pettish temper of Mr. John 
Morley; and fourthly, by the ignorance, indiflFerence and inertia of 
the Whig peers, Lords Spencer and Kimberley, backed by such 
obsolescent politicians as Mr. Shaw-Lefevre and Mr. Arnold Morley. 

The Manifesto ends with a plan of campaign: the crea- 
tion of a Labour Party securely anchored in the trade union 
movement. 


II2 


FABIAN MANIFESTO 

To those working-men who look solely to the interests of labour 
we need not address any lengthy argument for putting the Reform 
Bill of 1885 to its proper use by largely increasing the representation 
of labour in parliament. The fact that, in the House of Commons, 
governing a country where four men out of every five are wage 
workers, only fifteen out of six hundred and seventy are labour 
members, is altogether disgraceful to our great labour organisations. . . . 
The case for the fifty candidates, the ,^30,000 and the prompt and 
energetic organisation of the labour vote, is unanswerable. The 
question is, who is to do it? There is, unfortunately, no such thing as 
completely effective and general organisation of the working-classes in 
this or in any other country. But tliere is one organising agency, which’ 
is so much more effective and advanced than any other, that its 
superior fitness for the political work in hand is beyond all question; 
and that is the trade union organisation. There is nothing in the labour 
world that can compare even distantly with it. . . . There is no other 
combination able to cope with a general election. Attempts have been 
made, and are still being made from time to time, especially by Socialists, 
to establish general societies of the whole working-class to relieve 
the trade unions of their political duty; but, at the present moment, 
if the unions polled their entire voting strength at a general elec- 
tion, they could put not less than two thousand voters into the field 
for every single voter in the ranks of the most successful of their 
rivals. 

The money difficulty, which is the great bar to parliamentary 
representation of the working-class, does not exist for bodies whicli 
can raise a thousand pounds by a levy of from a penny to sixpence 
per member. A subscription of a penny a week for a year from every 
member of a trade union in the country would produce at least 
upwards of,^300,ooo; and, though such a subscription is not completely 
practicable, the calculation shows how easily the larger unions alone, 
with their membership of a million, could provide ^30,000 to finance 
fifty labour candidates at ^boo apiece, and to force forward the 
long-deferred legislation for payment of members and election ex- 
penses. 

On the whole then, we may take it that the representation of the 
working-classes at the general election will depend on the great 
national trade unions, and not on the Socialist bodies. Neither the 
Fabian Society nor the Social Democratic Federation, neither the 
Labour Electoral Association nor the society known as the Indepen- 
dent Labour Party, has the slightest prospect of mustering enough 
money to carry through three serious candidatures, much less fifty. 
Their part will be to provide the agitation which will enable the trade 


”3 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
union leaders to obtain the support of the rank and file in rising to the 
occasion. [Fortnightly Review, November 1893.] ^ 

The Fabian Manifesto, so I judge from a batch of letters 
from our personal friends among Liberal politicians and 
Liberal journalists, hurt feelings and roused anger. 

The manifesto is a heavy blow to us [writes R. B. Haldane on 
November 2, 1893J. We younger men were striving to bring those 
with whom we were immediately in contact into relation with you. 
We were making an impression. The liberal machine was in course 
, of modification. The work was very difficult. ... It was easier to 
persuade the older men, like Harcourt and Fowler, than to coerce 
them. ... It hurts us far more than the old gang, for weak as we 
were we could point, in the old days, the days of a week ago, to the 
support of your party. And now the Whig element will smile and go 
its way, and rely on what is really the substantial back-ground of the 
purely political working-man, who cares much where Liberalism is 
still comparatively strong, for things like Welsh Disestablishment and 
Home Rule. 

Even more exasperated by the Manifesto was H. W. 
Massingham, the political editor of the Daily Chronicle. 

Its appeal to trade unions is absurd and ill-timed j it is already 
being universally interpreted in the press (see the Fall Mall and the 
Dundee Advertiser) as a mere Unionist dodge, and it is in particular a 
retrogression (in the matter of the advice to trade unions — who won't 
respond) from every political principle that the Fabians have upheld. 
I think it a terrible mistake, which may have serious consequences. 
“ Not that it is easy to discuss seriously a manifesto chock full of levity, 
of unreal and insincere argument, of unverified statements, and of 
purposeful exaggeration ”, he writes to G. B. S. “. . . You have 
perpetrated a schoolboy jest — a mere freak of mischievous tom- 
foolery.” [I may observe in passing that wfthin two years, as will be 
seen in the following pages, our correspondents had become as critical 
as we had been of the spinelessness of the Liberal Cabinet.] 

I gather from the MS. diary that, during the next four 
years, we became increasingly intimate with politicians and 

* For details as to the organisation of the Labour Party and its relation to trade 
unionism see The History of Trade Unionism, S. and B. Webb, 1920 edition, 
chapter xi., “ Political Organisation, 1900-1920 ” (p. 677). See also History of 
Socialism, by Thomas Kirkup, revised by Edward Pease, 1913, section on “ Tlie 
Labour Party” (pp. 384-92). (See, too, British H'orking-Cass Politics, G. D. H. 
Cole. Ed.) 


POLITICAL SITUATION 


civil servants. But, immersed as we were in our researches 
into British Trade Unionism and in S. W.’s municipal and 
educational administration, this contact with the greater 
world of politics has left few traces in our joint memory. So I 
restrict myself to giving, for the most part without comment, 
a long string of entries; which may well seem to the reader 
scrappy and inconsequent, unduly personal and therefore 
lacking in perspective and sense of proportion. As a set-off" 
these contemporary notes will, at any rate, be free from the 
distortion of being “ wise after the event the one irre- 
deemable flaw, regarded as evidence of past states of mind,* 
of all political reminiscences. 

March l^th, 1894. — Last Thursday I was sitting down to work 
after breakfast when Haldane was announced. “ I have come to see 
you and Webb about the political situation ”, he began, looking grave 
and disturbed. I called Sidney in, and we both sat down feeling that 
we were expected to condole with some grievance but not quite certain 
which. “ These are dreadful appointments ”, he continued. “ Shaw- 
Lefevre is fatal to the Local Government Board; couldn’t be worse; 
George Russell at the Home Office, too.” And then Haldane un- 
burdened his soul to us. He described how the last ten days had been 
in reality a pitched battle between the old and the new Radicals. The 
common run of Liberal members were strongly in favour of Harcourtj 
the little gang of collectivist Radicals (which included Asquith, 
Acland, Sydney Buxton and Grey) had forced Rosebery on the parlia- 
mentary Radicals with the aid of such outside forces as the London 
Progressives and the Chronicle. John Morley had joined them from 
personal dislike of Harcourt, so that the hand of the Labouchere lot 
had been forced by the threat of the retirement of the most vital part 
of the Ministry. But the old gang had had their revenge. They had 
promoted Fowler, forced into the L.G.B. Shaw-Lefevre (Fowler 
and Harcourt’s nominee)* and effectually barred the way to Haldane’s 
entry into the Cabinet. It was natural enough that poor Haldane, 
having sacrificed himself by incurring the hatred of the rank and file 
by his successful Rosebery intrigue, should not be satisfied with this 
result. He had come to us to suggest that the Chronicle should be 
more critical in its attitude towards the new Government, and that 
the Progressives generally should not give themselves away. It was a 
quaint episode, when one remembered his grave remonstrance about 
our hostile attitude last autumn, that he should be instigating us to 
be independent. I saw, however, that it was more the Chronicle that 

1x5 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

he was after than ourselves. So I arranged that he should meet Mas- 
singham here on Sunday night and talk it over. 

Massingham came in before Haldane arrived, and confirmed his 
account of what had taken place. Asquith and Haldane, he says, are 
hated by the House of Commons Radical, who feels the ground slipping 
from under him without knowing why. Haldane incited Massingham 
to keep the Chronicle an independent force. They and Sidney more or 
less determined on a plan of campaign. . . . “ It is war to the knife, 
now,” said Haldane impressively, “ either they or we have to go 
down.” But what amused me was the way in which the present 
crisis had completely healed the strained feeling caused between Sidney 
••and Massingham, and to some extent Haldane, by the Fabian Mani- 
festo. Massingham, who had told us firmly that he would never work 
with us again, was now taking counsel about his conduct of the 
Chronicle^ and his ultimatum to the nominal editor that he would 
stand no interference in the political editorship. It shows how right 
we were to treat his angry outburst of private and public abuse with 
imperturbable good temper, and” turn our left cheek when he struck 
our right. I like Massingham immensely: I like him more than I 
respect him. His excitability, impressionableness, his quick appreciation 
of anything you say, and clever reproduction of it — all this is attractive 
— but one feels that to be safe with him one ought to keep him very 
much in tow. In that respect he resembles Tom Mann: he needs ballast. 

Our little plan of writing the minority reports of the two Com- 
missions I seems to be coming oS all right. Tom Mann hands in his 
elaborate Socialist manifesto and programme to-morrow. Broadhurst 
swallowed his part quite complacently, and Sidney has prepared him 
an excellent document on old-age pensions and the reform of the poor 
law. But we tremble lest some inadvertence should spoil our little 
game and Sidney’s work be wasted. But these sort of risks one has to 
run with these Labour men. They are not efficient. Broadhurst a 
good deal more so than Tom Mann; but then one likes him less in 
other ways, which makes working through him less pleasant. Whether 
we shall succeed in making our little hofiie the intellectual head- 
quarters of the Labour movement depends a good deal on the success, 
from the point of view of the two men concerned, of these minority 
reports. If it becomes generally known among tlie working-men 
leaders that Sidney is always ready to give them their stock in trade, 
and that no discredit comes to J:hem from accepting his help, then we 
shall be able to direct the aims and methods of the popular party on the 
questions which we understand. This behind the scenes intellectual, 
leadership is, r believe, Sidney’s especial talent. 

^ Royal Commissions on Labour and on the Aged Poor. 


POLITICAL SITUATION 


Sidney is discouraged about the political situation [I write in July 
1894]. Absorbed in the L.C.C. administrative work and in the book, 
he has little time for wire-pulling. He feels that there is a backwarda- 
tion. The Conservative Unionist Party is now fully alive to the issue 
of individualism and property as against collectivism and labour 
legislation, and is making preparations to fight hard; whilst the Liberal 
Party, though vaguely collectivist, is not led by collectivists, and has 
even among its leaders the most bigoted individualists. We have to 
some extent roused our natural enemies without having secured our 
natural allies. The Independent Labour Party, with its lack of money, 
brains and, to some extent, moral characteristics, is as yet more a 
thorn in the side of the Liberals than an effective force on our side.* 
Tom Mann is putting a good deal of steam into its propaganda and is 
lending to the cause some of his high character and personal purity; 
but at present there is no chance of its being more than a wrecking 
party, to some extent contradicting the permeating policy of the 
Fabians. Still, it has its uses: it may be a question of the surgeon’s 
knife rather than of a sustained regimen. 

I sometimes wonder whether I am right in inclining Sidney not 
to go into Parliament. Hardly a month passes but some constituency 
or other throws out a fly for him; but so far he resolutely refuses to 
consider it, and that largely because I discourage him. Personally, I 
feel that he is doing real work on the L.G.C., work which is not only 
useful to London, but useful to him, in that it gives him problems of 
administration to think out instead of pure wire-pullers’ work. Is 
there any distinction? Is not all administrative work wire-pulling, 
with a clear conception of your ends? Perhaps the distinction is that 
in administration your ends must be practicable and desirable; in 
political wire-pulling, you may be highly successful in your machinery 
but have altogether misunderstood the object of it. I do not feel 
confident that he would be a big success in the House; I do not think 
the finest part of his mind and character would be called out by the 
manipulation and intrigues of the lobby. And then a parliamentary 
career would destroy our united life; would cut at the root of a good 
deal of our joint effort. Perhaps that is why I distrust my dislike of 
his going into Parliament; it would take so much away from me, 
personally, would add so many ties and inconveniences. Sooner or 
later I suppose he will have to make the sacrifice — but better later 
than sooner. • 

Borough Farm, Surrey, July 1 894. — How far, I wonder [I write a 
few days later], will the collectivist principle carry us? The thinkers 
of fifty years ago believed as firmly in individualism as we believe 
in collectivism — probably more uncompromisingly; for the men and 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

women of to-day distrust general principles even though they be pre- 
pared to use them. And yet it is easy to see now that the settled con- 
viction of the individualists that government should be limited to 
keeping the ring clear for private individuals to fight in, was based on 
the experience of a one-sided and corrupt participation of the govern- 
ment in industrial organisation, and not on any necessary characteristic 
of state action. Face to face with the government action of their own 
day, they were to a large extent right. Is it not possible that it is the 
same with collectivism? Public administration is the alternative to 
private enterprise, and since private enterprise is corrupt and selfish 
we propose to supersede it by democratic control. But it is, on the face 
*of it, as unlikely that the collectivist principle will apply all round as 
that the individualist principle would solve all the social problems of 
fifty years ago. I do not think that we Fabians believe in more than a 
limited application of the collectivist principle; though, as practical 
politicians, we think that we are as yet nowhere near the margin of 
cultivation, that we can cultivate this principle vigorously for all that 
it is worth, in all directions without exhausting its vitality. But of 
one thing I feel certain. The controversy which seems to us now so 
full of significance and import will seem barren and useless to our 
great-grandchildren; they will be amazed that we fought so hard to 
establish one metaphysical position and to destroy another. And that 
is why I value diagnosis so much more highly than controversy and 
propaganda. How eagerly one searches in old pamphlets, articles and 
speeches for the chance fact which has been used to illustrate some 
utterly bygone argument or principle; how much more highly one 
values accurate and vivid description to subtle argument and slashing 
logic. But even here one is discouraged. The selection of facts is 
governed by the hypotheses of the investigator. Just those facts, which 
would have been most illuminating to the student of the next century, 
may be overlooked, or even, if noticed, may be carelessly thrown on 
one side. One must be content to work for one’s own day. . . . 

December ic)th, 1894. — Spent our Chre'stmas at Parmoor, with 
Alfred Cripps, the children, the [Leonard] Courtneys and various 
Cripps nieces. Alfred’s home is strangely attractive — with a dash of 
sadness in it — especially to Theresa’s sisters. ^ A charming house, 
designed largely by Theresa, the soft luxurious colouring, the quaint- 
ness of the furniture, the walls covered with her portraits, all bring 
back to me the memory of her gracious personality, so full of sympathy, 
wit and vivid imagination. And yet the home seems complete without 
her — the children revel in high spirits and health, the servants are 

‘ Beatrice’s sister Theresa Cripps died in 1893, leaving five young children. 
(Ed.) 

1 18 


ALFRED CRIPPS 


contented. Alfred himself has regained all the lightheartedness of his 
charming disposition. Possibly it is the rebound from the sadness of his 
most intimate thoughts, but to the mere spectator he seems more 
lighthearted than of old. He is again the young man — unattached — 
absolute master of his own life. And he is in the full tide of great 
prosperity. An enormous professional income (he told Arthur ^ that he 
made £1000 a week during the session) has enabled him to buy the 
family estate and sit down in front of a promising constituency. 
Doubtless he sees before him a brilliant career. Dear old Father used 
to call him “ the little jewel of an advocate ” — a. term which just fits 
him. There is something jewelled in his nature; intellectual skilfulness 
raised to the highest degree, a perfect deftness in execution, a loving’ 
disposition, unruffled temper, a cheery optimism; all these bright 
qualities set in a solid determination that all things shall fit in with his 
view of what is desirable — for himself and others. He is a delightful 
father — the children obeying him implicitly with no consciousness of 
being ruled or regulated; a charming host — seeming to place his whole 
establishment at the service of his guests; a most indulgent master 
and landlord; and, yet for all that, he gets his own way in life, and 
takes a very large share of the good things of the world both material 
and spiritual. With this disposition he could hardly be a reformer. He 
has become of late years more and more a Conservative opportunist — 
bent on keeping the soft places of the world for his own class — but 
ready to compromise and deal whenever his class would lose more 
by fighting. He has almost a constitutional dislike of economic or 
social principle. In the management of his own estate he creates the 
maximum of personal dependence on himself, not only scattering his 
money freely, but almost preferring to give it when it is least deserved 
so as to get the greatest amount of personal gratitude. And yet he is a 
determined opponent of any kind of public help — opposes it on the 
ground that it would undermine personal effort; in his heart of hearts 
he feds that it would render impossible the exercise of that power 
which he loves — the love of binding people to you by ties of obligation 
and personal gratitude. I doubt whether Alfred ever thinks out an 
economic or political problem. Why should he? He knows on which 
side he is retained, and there will be time enough to get up the advocate’s 
facts when the question turns up. This superficialism, of course, takes 
from his conversation all the deeper interest — he never weighs what 
you say, he simply listens to it to get the cue for a bright repartee or 
a quick turn of the subject. Discussion with him becomes a pretty 
play of words, he refuses to consider your position and will not permit 
you to look round his. Perhaps it is this part of Alfred’s development 
‘ Arthur Playue, married, to Beatrice’s sister Mary. (Ed.) 
irg 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
with v/hich I am most disappointed. When I first knew him — for 
those three or four years I was intimate with him — he was thinking 
hard, trying to ascertain facts and draw conclusions. He has now 
ceased to think. All the intellectual energy he can spare from his 
money-making advocacy is spent in the enjoyment of his own pro- 
sperity, and in that baser form of advocacy — the manufacture of 
electioneering speeches. With his skill and charm he will succeed in 
politics as he has succeeded at the Bar — he will “ make money or its 
equivalent ” — and that is all. For all that, he remains an essentially 
lovable man. And without doubt he will one day find another mate, 
and then we shall lose sight of him. 

It is curious to see the three brothers-in-law together. Each one 
has, for the opinions of the other two, tolerant contempt. Leonard 
Courtney likes Alfred far better than he does Sidney, thinks him a 
pleasant, attractive fellow with all the antecedents of a gentleman and 
a scholar. But for his opportunist Toryism — his demagogic anti- 
democratic attitude — he has, I think, an even greater intellectual 
contempt than for Sidney’s collectivism. Alfred frankly defends class 
privileges and as frankly appeals to the prejudices of the masses — 
favoure protection and publicans as well as priests and peers, and is as 
bitterly opposed to popular education, or even any stimulus to citizen- 
ship, as he would be to unlimited outdoor relief. Beyond all he is a 
purely party man and looks on every proposal as a move in the party 
fight. ^ All this is as intensely repugnant to Leonard as Alfred’s lax 
management of his estate, or his scarcely veiled bribeiy of the Stroud 
constituency. To Leonard the means whereby you carry through a 
proposal, the arguments witli which you support it, are as important 
as the end itself. And to do Leonard justice he is a democrat at heart, 
in that he honestly desires that the government of the country should 
be the reflection of the free desires and views of the whole body of the 
people. Possibly he is more of a democrat than we are ourselves; for 
we have little faith in the “ average sensual man ”, we do not believe 
that he can do much more than describe his grievances, we do not 
think that he can prescribe the remedies. It is possibly exactly on this 
point that Leonard feels most antagonism to Our opinions. We wish 
to introduce into politics the professional expert— to extend the sphere 
of government by adding to its enormous advantages of wholesale and 
compulsory management, the advantage of the most skilled entre- 
preneur. Leonard agrees with us, I think, in believing that the 
happiness of the mass is the end to be aimed at, but he has no faith 

> During the War 1914-18, Alfred Cripps, on the ground of pacifist principle, 
left the Conservative Party and later joined the Labour Party. See Biographical 
Index. (Ed.) 


120 


LIBERAL PARTY 


in our methods because he holds a radically different economic creed. 
Alfred, on the other hand, refuses seriously to discuss with us, because 
he recognises at once that we desire different ends — Leonard he holds 
to be a cranky faddist who cannot make up his mind which side of 
things he is really going to support. The attitude of the three brothers- 
in-law may therefore be described thus; Alfred looks on Sidney as a 
traitor to the brain-working and propertied class; Sidney looks on 
Alfred as a “ kept ” advocate of the status quo-, Leonard looks on Alfred 
as a somewhat selfish, thoughtless and superficial conservative; on 
Sidney as a shallow-minded, self-complacent, half-educated democrat; 
whilst both Sidney and Alfred have much the same opinion of Leonard 
— an upright but wrong-headed man, dominated by a worn-out eco- ' 
nomic creed and shackled by lack of sympathy and quick intelligence. 
To some extent all opinions are equally true — ^as a summing-up of 
each individual they are all equally false. 

yanuary lOth, 1895. — Haldane, utterly discouraged with condition 
of the Liberal Party; says there is now no hope that the Cabinet will 
pull themselves through. With the exception of Acland, none of 
the Ministers are doing any work; Rosebery sees Jio one but Eddy 
Hamilton, a flashy fast Treasury clerk, his stud-groom, and various 
non-political fashionables; Sir W. Harcourt amuses himself at his 
country place and abroad, determined to do nothing to help Rosebery; 
even Asquith, under the dominance of his brilliant and silly wife, has 
given up attending to his department and occupies his time by visiting 
rich country houses and learning to ride! “ Rot has set in,” says 
Haldane; “ there is no hope now but to be beaten and then to recon- 
struct a new party. If only you Progressives can hold your own at the 
L.C.C. elections, you would be a plank saved from the wreck upon 
which we could build a new combination.” 

The same strains from Massingham, now much under Haldane’s 
influence. He spent three or four hours here the other day being 
coached for the Daily Chronicle on the L.C.C. election. Urged Sidney 
to go into Parliament and •become one of the leaders of the reconstruc- 
tion party. But Sidney will bide his time. At present, the L.C.C. is 
a better platform from which to bring about collectivism than the 
House of Commons. 

yanuary 'lyd, 1895. — Last night we had an informal conference 
with the I.L.P. leaders; MacDonald and Frank Smith (who are 
members both of the Fabian Society and the I.L.P.), having been 
for some time harping on the desirability of an understanding between 
the two societies. To satisfy them Sidney asked a little dinner of Keir 
Hardie, Tom Mann, Pease and Shaw, and the two intermediaries. I 


121 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
think the principals on either side felt it would come to nothing. 
Nevertheless, it was interesting. Keir Hardie was reserved, and merely 
reiterated the burden of his speech to the Fabians. But Tom Mann 
gushed out his soul. The practical issue before us was the action of the 
I.L.P. at the L.C.C. elections. Tom Mann, with the concurrence of 
Keir Hardie, advised the I.L.P. to abstain from voting. The Pro- 
gressives on the L.C.C., he said, were not convinced Socialists and, 
even those who were, chose to run as Progressives and not as purely 
Socialist candidates. Therefore, the I.L.P. should be hostile to their 
return. He would not support John Burns (or presumably Sidney), 
“ because Jack played to get the vote of the mere Liberal ”. “ No one 
‘‘could get the votes of the I.L.P. who did not pledge himself to the 
nationalisation of the means of production, and who did not run overtly 
in opposition to all who were not socialists." He would accept no alliance. 
When we cross-examined his reasons they amounted to this. First, 
even if the Progressives were trying their best to use the L.C.C. for 
socialist purposes, the I.L.P. of the provinces regarded them as mere 
Liberals; and, as a fact, if the Progressives were elected, it would 
redound to the credit of the official Liberals. Secondly, the amelioration 
brought about by the collectivism of the L.C.C. retarded the growth 
of the I.L.P. movement; set back the social revolution. 

It was melancholy to see Tom Mann reverting to the old views 
of the S.D.F. and, what is worse, to their narrow sectarian policy. 
Keir Hardie, who impressed me very unfavourably, deliberately 
chooses this policy as the only one he can boss. His only chance of 
leadership lies in the creation of an organisation “ agin’ the Govern- 
ment ”} he knows little and cares less for any constructive thought or 
action. But with Tom Mann it is different. He is possessed with the 
idea of a “ church ” — of a body of men all professing the same creed 
and all working in exact uniformity to exactly the same end. No idea 
which is not absolute, which admits of any compromise or qualifica- 
tion, no adhesion which is tempered with doubt, has the slightest 
attraction to him. And as Shaw remarked, he is deteriorating. This 
stumping the country, talking abstractions and raving emotions, is not 
good for a man’s judgement; and the perpetual excitement leads, 
among other things to too much whiskey. 

I do not think the conference ended in any understanding. We made 
clear our position. The Fabians in no way competed with the I.L.P. 
We were purely an educationsil body.^we did not seek to become a 
political party. We should continue our policy of inoculation — of giving 
to each class, to each person, coming under our influence, the exact 
dose of collectivism that they were prepared to assimilate. And we 
§hop}d continue to improve and enlarge such machinery of govern- 

; 170 . 


LEONARD COURTNEY 

ment that came into our hands. Of course, this slow imperceptible 
change in men’s opinions and in the national institutions, is not 
favourable to the growth of a revolutionary party. There is some truth 
in Keir Hardie’s remark that we were the worst enemies of the social 
revolution. No great transformation is possible in a free democratic 
state like England unless yoH alter the opinions of all classes of the com- 
munity — and, even if it were possible, it would not be desirable. That 
is the crux between us! 

In the last chapter I described the stalemate of the 
London County Council election in the first days of March 
1895; the Progressives deprived of their majority of elected 
members, and dependent, for their administrative control, 
on the Progressive aldermen overhanging from the outgoing 
Council. A fortnight later, there occurred an event which, 
because it affected one of the family group, lent acidity to 
the following entries in the MS. diary. My brother-in-law, 
Leonard Courtney, who had served for six years as Deputy 
Speaker, was pressed by Sir William Harcourt and his 
colleagues to accept the Government nomination for the 
Speakership: he felt compelled, out of loyalty to his own 
party, to enquire whether or not they wished him to accept 
it. The answer was decisively in the negative.* 

March I ^ih, 189 5. — Poor dear Leonard diddled out of the Speaker- 
ship by his own party. A mean and discreditable intrigue of Chamber- 
lain’s, who has had an animus against him ever since I can remember — 
first because Leonard was too much of a Whig, then because he 
retained too much of the Radical. Most likely, however, it has been 
all through a personal animus dating from Leonard’s refusal fifteen 
years ago to enrol himSelf as Chamberlain’s follower. It is only fair to 
say that Leonard has had a contempt for Chamberlain’s intelligence 
and character — and Leonard is not a man to hide his opinions. 
Leonard’s bad manners, his supercilious depreciation of other people’s 
claims, and his lack of graciousness, have been Chamberlain’s op- 
portunity. We are grieved not only for his and Kate’s sake but because 
we really believe we have lost the most democratic Speaker available. 
For, with all his faults, Leonard has an honest desire for the maximum 
efficiency \n democratic machinery; an 3 he judges each change on its 
own merits and not on what it may lead to. He has faith in democracy — 
a quality which covers many sins. 

I See Life of Lord Courtney, by G. P. Gooch, chapter xv., “ The Speaker’s 
Chair ” (pp. 316-28). 


123 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

March 26th, 1895. — Beatrice Chamberlain i paid me one of her 
annual visits, and ■we had a long talk on politics, carefully avoiding 
the L.C.C. and the Speakership. She was anxious to know our opinion 
of the Factory Bill — was it a good Bill — did it go far enough.? I gather 
from her attitude that J. C. is friendly to regulation of private enter- 
prise and has no prejudices in favour of free trade in labour. I told her 
that the Bill was excellent so far as it went, but might easily be made 
better by certain amendments. I felt inclined to offer to send her the 
amendments; but I am not sufficiently certain of J. C.’s bona fides to 
be completely confidential. One great advantage of the Bill is that at 
last we get recognised the principle I have been fighting for for five 
“ years, the responsibility of the ^ver out of work for conditions of em- 
ployment: my own pet invention in labour legislation, 1 am glad to 
see it at last embodied in the black and white of a Government Bill. 

May zph, 1895. — A grey outlook in political situation, a heavy 
reaction setting in against the Liberal Government — the “ haves ” 
thoroughly frightened, the “ have-nots ” unsatisfied. Within the 
Liberal Party each man complaining of the other — no comradeship 
or cohesion — ^all at sixes and sevens with regard to opinions. 

July %th, 1895. — On the eve of the election, the Fabians are sitting 
with their hands in their laps [I write just before the general election]. 
From our point of view, no result can be satisfactory. The Liberals, 
on the eve of dissolution, show no signs of grace, they go unabsolved 
to their grave: if anything, rather inclined to repent their good deeds, 
not to regret their lost opportunities. Lords, Home Rule and Local 
Veto are their battle cries — Rosebery, Morley and Harcourt voicing 
each separately. The I.L.P. is splashing about in a futile ineffectual 
fashion, the S.D.F. turning all its energies into a fanatical crusade 
against John Burns! We wish the Liberals to be beaten, but we do 
not wish the Tories to win. A tie, or sometliing near a tie, would 
suit us best. But it looks like a triumphant majority for the Tories. 
Nor does there seem much hope in the future. The Liberal Party is 
pledged to three measures which offend all’ the conservative instincts 
of the people — Home Rule, Local Veto and Church Disestablish- 
ment— -without exciting the slightest enthusiasm among the advanced 
section of their party. Sometimes we think we are in for a long spell 
of strong Conservative rule beginning with 1895, and lasting possibly 
for another twenty years with only short interregnums of weak Liberal 
Government. For tbe Liberals have no leaders inspired with a new 
faith, Asquith has been ruined by marrying a silly ignorant wife; and 

■ Daughter of Joseph Chamberlain by his first -wife and intimate friend of 
Beatrice before her marriage, (Ed.) 


124 


JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN 

there is no other man who has at once capacity, character and con- 
viction. The Labour men are mere babies in politics; judging from 
our knowledge of the Labour movement we can expect no leader 
from the working-class. Our only hope is in permeating the young 
middle-class man — catching them for collectivism before they have 
enlisted on the other side. 

Though the situation looks bad for our side of things, it is impossible 
not to be amused and interested in the political drama. Chamberlain 
is the man of the moment. He has kept the little band of Liberal 
Unionists separate and compact for ten years; and now, just before 
they must of necessity melt away, he has deftly used them to ride into 
power, dragging into the Government the faithful Jesse Ceilings, the, 
servile Powell Williams and the amiable youth, Austen. The humour 
of the situation is the fact that the majority of the Liberal Unionists 
in the House of Commons have been anti-Chamberlainites — more 
hostile in their hearts to “Joe” than tlie bigoted Tories! It is a 
testimony to the marvellous force of Chamberlain’s personality that he 
pervades this election — no one trusts him, no one likes him, no one 
really believes in him, and yet everyone accepts him as the leader of 
the united Unionists. His position in the Tory Party is, in feet, very 
similar to his position in 1885 in the Liberal Party, Is it equally 
unstable? Will he play again the role of the usurper to keep his seat 
on the throne, or does he believe sufficiently in his new party to serve 
it faithfully? I am inclined to think that, barring accidents from evil 
temper, the cause of private property is sufficiently attractive to 
Chamberlain’s mind to keep him from wilful wrecking; and that, on 
the whole, Salisbury has got a fair consideration in the bargain of the 
last few days. But alas! for the poor dear Liberal Unionists — that 
little company of upright, narrowly enlightened, well-bred men — who 
drifted away from the Liberal Party ostensibly on Home Rule, but 
mainly because of the shoddy social schemes Joe had imposed on 
Gladstone. To be used as the ladder up which Joe climbs into a 
Conservative Government, waving aloft his banner of shoddy reform, 
then to be thrown ignontiniously aside. A fit ending for a company 
of prigs! 

July 10th, 1895. — Attended London Trades Council meeting last 
Thursday. Printed agenda of platonic resolutions on all manner of 
questions. But the business done was exclusively on minutes of the 
executive. For two-and-a-half hours #ome 100 delegates wrangled 
over an accusation of sweating brought against the Salvation Army 
by the Printing Trades Federation and reported by the printing trades 
group of the L.T.C. Quite obvious that the delegates of the Printing 
Federation had made numberless exaggerated statements: equally clear 

■.■125 . 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
that the printing trades group had given a clean bill of health to the 
Salvation Army in spite of manifold signs of sweating in the past, if 
not in the present. No conclusion — referred to another committee. 

But the most astounding fact about this meeting was the total 
absence of any reference, or even a by-the-way allusion, to the 
approaching general election. It is almost inconceivable that a meeting 
of the representative working-men of London should be held within 
four days of the general election without taking apparently the slightest 
notice of it. It is another proof of the disastrous political incapacity of 
the present T.U. leaders. The T.U. world seems half-paralysed. The 
faked-up conference at Manchester on the 1 1 th, held because it was 
• ordered by the last Congress, has had not the remotest effect on any 
single election. The Cotton Factory Times, the organ of the cotton 
operatives, has dilated on cotton duties and bi-metallism, but not a 
word on the more general interests of the wage-earnersj the I.L.P. 
journals — Clarion and Labour Leader — have published no programme, 
have given no lead [I record, as the returns for the long drawn-out 
election drop in], except Keir Hardie’s futile suggestion that LL.P. 
voters should spoil their ballot papers by writing the name of some 
woman as candidate. Even the miners seem to be in a state of political 
suspended animation. 

Of course, this has meant a rout for the anti-Conservatives (really 
that is the only generic term wide enough to cover the numberless 
groups) all along the line — Sir W. Harcourt being smashed at Derby, 
and Keir Hardie at West Ham! The rout is quite indiscriminate: if 
the official Liberals have been extinguished, the Labour Party has 
certainly not won. Some dozen scats have probably been lost by Labour 
candidatures; but, where the Liberal has stood aside, the Labour man 
has failed to win the place. 

To us the result is not altogether unsatisfactory. From our point 
of view the field had to be cleared. The official Liberals had rucked 
up. For the last year, there were numberless signs that our opinions 
were discounted — that there was a backwardation. This has been 
especially obvious since the L.C.C. elections' — the Harcourts, Morleys, 
Hibberts and Fowlers have sneered, have as good as said that they were 
not any longer going to be bamboozled, that Home Rule, Local Veto, 
Church Disestablishment and anti-Lords were to be the only battle 
cries of the Liberal. Party. The utter rout, the annihilation, one 
might almost say, of the Harcourt faction— the hopeless discredit into 
which such reforms as Local Veto, Home Rule, Church Disestablish- 
ment have fallen clears the field of a good deal of cumbrous debris. 
On the other hand, the I.L.P. has completed its suicide. Its policy 
of abstention and deliberate wrecking is proved to be futile and 

ia6 


GENERAL ELECTION 

absurd; Keir Hardie has probably lost for good any chance of posturing 
as M.P., and will sink into the old place of a discredited Labour leader. 
So long as the I.L.P. existed as an unknown force of irreconcilables, 
the more reasonable policy of permeation and levelling-up was utterly 
checkmated. 

I do not mean to say that events have gone as we wished. Two 
years ago we hoped not only to go on levelling-up the great body of 
Liberals, but also to weed out of the party, by a reasonable and dis- 
criminating Labour policy, the reactionaries; and thus possibly bring 
about a small Tory majority. But directly we discovered the ruck-up 
of official Liberalism, on the one hand, and the utterly unreasonable 
attitude of the I.L.P., on the other, we saw plainly that our game 
was up. We were beaten in the local elections of last autumn and this 
spring. From the general election we held aloof, refusing either to 
back the I.L.P. or support tlie Liberals. The rout of both, therefore, 
is no defeat for us. It leaves us free, indeed, to begin afresh on the old 
lines — of building up a new party on the basis of collectivism. Whether 
the English nation desires the change or can be brought to desire it; 
whether, if it does desire it, it will have the patience to work it out, 
is to my mind still an open question. In any case it will be a long 
business — and mainly dependent on the levelling-up of character and 
intelligence in the mass of the people. Meanwhile, the affairs of the 
nation are in the hands of an exceptionally able set of men who have 
been elected as trustees of the status quo. There is little danger of 
I’eaction, either in administration or legislation. The Conservatives are 
pledged up to the hilt to a policy of social reform, and the worst they 
can do is to stand still. 

Grosvenor Hotel, Manchester, October Sth, 1895.— Sidney and I 
journeyed down here to cultivate Rochdale — Sidney speaking to the 
I.L.P. and I holding forth from the pulpit of a large Congregational 
church on the ethics of factory legislation. Rochdale, if ever Sidney 
thought of going into Parliament, is a possible constituency, at present 
held by a Tory owing to a split between Labour and Libei'al. But 
Parliament seems further 'off than ever. We are loth to give up our 
quiet life of thought and enquiry, and we are discouraged by the hope- 
less state of progressive politics. Those who form the backbone of the 
Liberal Party, who dominate the party machinery, who own the 
wealth, who to a large extent monopolise the intelligence, have no 
convictions on the questions that interest working-men. At the best 
they are timid empiricists, who if they are assured that collectivism 
is the coming creed give it a faint-hearted support. For the most part, 
they are secretly hostile; they dare not proclaim their hostility so they 
remain dumb trying to evade the questions as outside practical politics. 
127 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
These men would rather see a Conservative Government in power 
than allow the leaders of their own side to push forward social demo- 
cracy. I am not sure that this hostile force is not still the strongest 
element inside the Liberal Party; none the less strong because they 
remain silent as regards the public, expressing themselves forcibly to 
the official leaders whom they surround like a body-guard keeping out 
all outside influence. The trick of forcing on the party an advanced 
programme, and then calling them traitors because they did not carry 
it out, is played out so far as we are concerned. It served its purpose; 
it was a wedge driven into the party and has discovered the true line 
of cleavage between tlie old and the new. But that is done and finished 
with. Now we collectivists have to assert ourselves as a distinct school 
of thought, taking up each question separately and reviewing it in the 
light of our principles. But the first need of a school of thought is 
ta think. Our special mission seems to be to undertake the difficult 
problems ourselves, and to gather round us young men and women 
who will more or less study under inspiration. At present we have a 
certain set of young people all more or less devoted to the Fabian 
junta. Herbert Samuel, Charles Trevelyan, Bobby Phillimore, 
Bertrand Russell; all rich men of the upper or middle-class, and 
MacDonald, Martin, Macrosty of the lower middle-class. The London 
School of Economics should furnish others. But, in order to occupy 
this position, we must to some extent hold ourselves aloof; and, above 
all, we must be, and what is more or at least equally important, we 
must appear absolutely disinterested. At present that position seems 
inconsistent with any attempt to push forward a political career. If 
Sidney goes into Parliament he must go as an independent elected on 
account of his peculiar opinions and more or less the leader of a new 
party either within the Liberal organisation or outside it. No other 
position would compensate to the cause for his loss as an active thinker 
and administrator; no other position could make up for the personal 
sacrifice of giving up our joint work and the life of learned leisure for 
,the inconvenience, separation and turmoil of a political career. 

January Sth, 1896. Parmoor . — Two other visits, and we are back 
to-morrow at our work. Five days at Hadspen-— Sidney’s first introduc- 
tion to the Hobhouse household. For Henry* he has always had an 
honest liking, admiring his public spirit and his refined view of life, 
and his painstaking industry. Henry’s great lack is intellectual initiative 
and moral experience — ^he is parrow and limited — so to speak, blind 
to whole sides of life and quite incapable of discovering new lights 
and meanings. But he tries his level best to be enlightened, never 

‘ Henry Hobhouse, married to Beau-ice’s sister Margaret. See Biographica 
Index. (Ed.) ■ ■ , 


HADSPEN HOUSE 


consciously allows personal or class interest to bias him, and is quite 
incapable of unworthy motive. In this imperfect world these high 
and chivalrous qualities are admirable. Perhaps it has weighed with 
us that alone among my brothers-in-law he has welcomed Sidney with 
grave courtesy into the family, has always treated him with respect 
and friendliness, has apparently never felt that repulsion which most 
of my brothers-in-law have shown to him — either on account of his 
lack of social status or because of his opinions. Maggie,* of course, is 
the same high-spirited, rather vulgar and sharp-tongued woman — has 
cut her nature down to suit her husband’s intellectual limitations 
without raising it to conform to her husband’s moral standard. There 
is always therefore a jar in the house — Maggie protesting against 
Henry’s quixotic principles — Henry silently resenting her plots and 
plans for social advancement and pecuniary saving. The family life 
suffers a little from this jar and loses in grace and charm. But this is 
only superficial. The two are honestly fond of each other, and Margaret 
is a capable and wholly devoted mother. Stephen, the eldest boy, now 
scholar at Eton, is a tali, lanky, ugly boy — unspoilt and simple-minded, 
with none of the public school boy’s “ side ” — industrious, discreet 
and interested in men and things. No charm of body or mind — except 
an unsullied honesty and purity of nature. The little girls are correct 
and well-mannered, bright and happy, very pleasant to look at and 
quite sufficiently intelligent. The other children are too young to be 
judged. The most marked general feature of all of them is the lack 
of that introspective morbid character that distinguished most of us. 
Neither Stephen, nor the two girls, show any curiosity about religion, 
they all conform and never ask questions. They seem at present to 
have some of the limitations in intellectual and moral experience that 
is so marked a characteristic of their father. I should imagine that 
Stephen Hobhouse is destined by his character to be a civil servant — 
in which case we may hope to see something of this boy — to whom I 
feel drawn. 

After five days at Hadspen we came on here. A charmingly at tractive 
house-— an atmosphere of “ promise and expectation ”. Alfred [Cripps], 
after a brilliant professional career, is entering political life with all 
the self-assurance and ambition of the man who has never failed. And 
what a contrast to Henry! With a wide tho’ superficial knowledge of 
human affairs, with the typical advocate’s temperament, Alfred has 
chosen his political party and means to abide by it. No nonsense 

' Margaret was Beatrice’s most intimate companion among the sisters and, while 
they differed widely in outlookj Beatrice often expressed her admiration for her 
sister’s intellectual integrity, her outspokenness and courage in defence of what 
she believed to be right. See Biographical Index. (Ed.) 


129 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

about enlightenment, or any impartial study of the common weal. He 
deliberately shuts his eyes to the other party’s case except in so far as 
knowledge of it will help him to controvert it. With infinitely more 
intelligence, knowledge and sympathy than Henry, he is far less 
capable of a sound political judgement. Whereas Henry in nine cases 
out of ten will be more enlightened than the rank and file in his own 
party, Alfred will probably range himself among the prudent and able 
reactionaries. He is, of course, far too clever not to compromise — 
but his compromise will always be the best compromise for his class 
and not the best for the community. He will never hesitate to start 
false issues and use false arguments in order to throw dust in the face 
a of the people. Love of truth, at one time so prominent in his nature, 
now hardly exists; he is utterly uninterested in economic or political 
research. Sharp wits are all that are required to perceive an attack on 
the fundamental principles of “ private property and the growth of the 
Empire ” — sharp wits, and physical force are all that is needed to 
defend them. That being so, whether this evil, or that evil, prevails 
is an immaterial issue. Still more fantastic, to his mind, is that elaborate 
dissection and diagnosis of social and economic facts which enables a 
politician to deal with them. All this discovery and analysis are in his 
mind purely mischievous, not because these evils cannot be cured 
(Leonard Courtney’s position), but for the far simpler reason that it is 
not worth while curing them. Having decided to stand by his class, 
being honestly (and no doubt justly) convinced that that class has 
everything to lose and nothing to gain by an alteration in the status 
quo, the one thing needful is to appeal to the popular suspicion, fear, 
prejudices and fallacies to keep back any further reforms. I do not 
mean this as a moral indictment. Alfred’s original conviction that it 
is desirable that an upper class, owning most of the property and 
keeping the control of the nation, should exist is a proposition which 
can be perfectly well defended. But it is a proposition which, in face 
of a political democracy, it is impossible to state overtly and equally 
useless to attempt to prove. Foolish persons, like Auberon Herbert 
or Herbert Spencer, only injure the cause they are attempting to 
defend; since their conclusions render all their logic and all their facts 
suspect. That is, after all, not their fault, but the fault of the political 
public which is, let us admit at once, grossly biased. We, on the other 
hand, having arrived at the popular conclusion, are willing enough to 
uncover the facts and the reasonings which have led us there, and are 
supremely intent on finding out more facts so that we may proceed 
yet further. Alfred Cripps is far too clever not to perceive that the real 
interest of the people is hostile to that of the classes — to meander 
about like Henry Hobhouse attempting to discover the common weal 


130 


ALFRED CRIPPS 


argues simply, to his mind, a lack of capacity. There is no common 
weal — there is a solution which will suit the “ haves ”, and a solution 
which will suit the “ have-nots ”, and there is, of course, a com- 
promise. It is this superior clear-sightedness which has transformed 
Alfred into a mere political advocate habitually ignoring facts and 
distorting issues. In a political democracy, no really intellectual 
politician who disagrees with the assumptions of democracy — still less 
one who agrees with the principles of a plutocratic or aristocratic 
state — can possibly remain an honest thinker and honest speaker. It is 
not the fault of Alfred’s nature — it is the inevitable result of the 
conflict between his first principles, and the political circumstances in 
which he is forced to live. 

Alfred’s temperament and intellectual position is interesting because 
I think it is typical of the intellectual tone of the genuine conservative. 
And this means that the whole onus of economic discovery and political 
education will be thrown on those who desire complete democracy, 
still more on those who desire complete social democracy. This means 
a terrific intellectual strain on the progressive party. It is intensely 
difficult to be at once investigators and agitators — men of science and 
administrators. We are trying, in our humble way, to lead both lives — 
to keep our head clear to see the facts — without losing that touch of 
the political market which leads to effective propaganda. We shall 
probably fail at both pursuits — that is to say, we shall do each far less 
well than we might have done if we had specialised. Sooner or later 
there must needs be division of labour — if it comes in our time, we, I 
think, shall become investigators and not politicians. 

The whole mind of the country is at present absorbed in foreign 
politics. There has been a dramatic interest in the Transvaal events. 
Secrecy in international matters has, I think, been finally discredited 
so far as England is concerned. And the occasion has found the man. 
Joe Chamberlain is to-day the national hero. Only a small section — 
the extreme Tories of the Alfred Cripps type — ^withhold their admira- 
tion for the swiftness and courage with which he has grappled with 
the crisis. Whether his Cabinet altogether appreciates the autocratic 
way in which he deals single-handed with every event is an interesting 
question of Cabinet politics. But his ways — his strong will, assiduity 
and reasonableness — have certainly given the nation confidence not 
only in his administration of the colonies but in the Conservative 
Government. In these troubled times, with every nation secretly dis- 
liking us, it is a comfortable thought that we have a Government of 
strong, resolute men — not given either to bluster or vacillation-^but 
prompt in taking every measure to keep us out of a war and to make 
us successful should we be forced in it. 

■ ■ ■ 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

April 1 8;fA, 1 896. — Whilst we were at die Lakes, we had furious 
letters from J. R. MacDonald on the “ abuse of the Hutchinson 
Trust ” in the proposal to contribute to the Library of Political 
Science. J, R. M, is a brilliant young Scot — lately I.L.P. candidate 
for Southampton — ^whom we [through the Fabian executive] have 
been employing as Hutchinson Trust lecturer in the provinces. 
These lectures are avowedly socialistic, but from the first Sidney has 
insisted that both MacDonald and Enid Stacy should make them 
educational: should issue an elaborate syllabus of a connected course, 
with bibliographies, etc. And, apparently, they have been extremely 
successful. But MacDonald is personally discontented because we 
refused to have him as a lecturer for the London School. He is not 
good enough for that workj he has never had the time to do any 
sound original work, or even learn the old stuff well. Moreover, he 
objects altogether to diverting Socialist funds to education. Even his 
own lectures, he declares, are too educational “ to make Socialists 
he wants an organiser sent about the country. “ Organise what.? ” 
asks Sidney. MacDonald dare not reply “ I.L.P, branches ”, which 
he meant. Neither could he suggest organising Fabian societies as it 
has always been against the policy of the Fabians to organise people; 
its function being to permeate existing organisations. The truth is 
that we and MacDonald are opposed on a radical issue of policy. To 
bring about the maximum amount of public control in public adminis- 
tration do we want to organise the unthinking persons into Socialist 
societies, or to make the thinking pereons socialistic? We believe in 
the latter process. 

The Liberals being hopelessly out of court whilst the 
Conservatives seemed firmly established for many years 
ahead, the practical question arose, shall we or shall we not 
mend our fences on the Conservative side of the field of 
politics.? From the following entries I gather that the answer 
was in the affirmative: . 

Whitsun, 1 896.-— Sidney much enjoyed colloquy with Sir John 
Gorst [acting Minister for Education], Michael Sadler, Llewellyn 
Smith and others about Education Bill. On the whole, he is favourable 
to the central idea of the Bill: that is, replacing ad hoc bodies by one 
set of representatives chosen to manage all the business of the locality 
(but doubtful whether the Bill, as it stands, will effect this): also, not 
against helping voluntary or denominational schools in return for a 
measure of control, which is bound to grow. Other clauses, enabling 
public authorities to subsidise private venture schools, he looks upon 

132 



EDUCATION BILL 


as radically bad. He, however, recognises that it is no good for him 
to oppose the Bill — far better to appreciate the good in it and, by 
appreciating it, get some influence in amending it in our direction. 
And he is fortunately placed for this purpose. As originator and chair- 
man of the most successful educational authority in London, as a 
friendly acquaintance of Gorst’s — as a friend of Llewellyn Smith and 
Sadler, and acquainted with all the educationalists in London, he is 
able to be constantly suggesting amendments which are favourably 
considered by those in authority. 

This work, and pushing the London School and the Political 
Science Library, combine to force us more into political society on 
both sides. On Monday, for instance, we dined at the House with 
Haldane and Asquith and other Liberals; on Tuesday, with Sir John 
Gorst and Lord George Hamilton, two Conservative Ministers. 
Becoming too, every day more connected with the superior rank of 
civil servants, such as. Sir Alfred Milner, Sir George Kekewich, 
Henry Cunynghame and others (Sidney’s old connection with the 
Civil Service stands him in good stead — he knows the ropes of almost 
every office). All this is in a way pleasant (I do not hide from myself 
that I am pleased and flattered that my boy is recognised as a dis- 
tinguished man!), but it means less intellectual absorption in our work. 
Still we go plodding on with our analysis — making up our minds on 
each separate subject as we go along, more than ever convinced that 
we must write a Textbook of Democracy — crisp and authoritative — 
as our next work. ,We are always abusing the Liberal Party for not 
knowing its owii mind — it would be more to the purpose if we made 
it up ourselves! 

Whitsun^ 1896. — Came back and found the Education Bill 
practically dead. . . . The discreditable failure of this complicated 
measure only another instance of how impossible it is nowadays to 
succeed in politics without technical knowledge of the great democratic 
machine. The last Liberal Government went out discredited because 
their members were mere prigs thrust into office — the present Govern- 
ment are going the same way. “ In these matters I am a child ”, says 
Balfour! We do not want clever school boys at the head of our great 
departments. We want grown men, “ grown up ” in the particular 
business they have taken in hand, doing their eight or nine hours’ work 
for ten months in every year, whether in office or out of office; 
behaving towards their profession as the great civil engineer, lawyer 
or medical man behaves. In political life the standard of natural 
ability is remarkably high, the standard of acquirements ludicrously 
low. Who would trust the building of a bridge to a man who started 
with such an infinitesimal knowledge of engineering as Balfour or 

. .133 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
Gorst have of national education and its machinery? There seems to 
be a settled conviction that any clever man, trained to any profession 
whatsoever, will succeed in politics whether or no he knows anything 
about the detailsof public administration, or the facts of the common life 
he has to attempt to reform. That impression we must try to destroy. 

August lifth, 1896. Saxmundham. — A whole fortnight wasted in 
illness — rheumatic cold combined with general collapse. This must 
excuse the absence of the brilliant account which I looked forward 
to writing of the International Congress! To us it was, as we expected 
it to be, a public humiliation. The rank and file of Socialists — especially 
English Socialists — are unusually silly folk (for the most part feather- 
headed failures) and heaped togctlier in one hall with the consciousness 
that their every word would be reported by the world’s press, they 
approached raving imbecility. The confusion of tongues, of procedure, 
the grotesque absurdity of masquerading as “ nations ”, and yo\i have 
all the factors for a hideous fiasco from the point of view of public 
opinion. The Fabians sat silent taking notes as reporters for the 
capitalist press; Sidney writing descriptive accounts for the Manchester 
Guardian, Shaw for the Star, Bland for a weekly paper, Clem 
Edwards for the Daily News, and another Fabian for the Chronicle. 
The Fabians at any rate write history if they do not make it! 

But, though we were ashamed of the “ British nation ” as repre- 
sented by the callow youtlis and maidens of the I.L.P. and S.D.F., 
the Socialists of other lands were exceptionally enlightening. The 
German political Socialists are substantial persons — their intellects 
somewhat twisted by their authoritarian dogmatism — but with strong 
sterling character and capable of persistent and deliberate effort. 
Among them, too, are thoughtful cultivated men such as Kautsky 
and Adler. The party is closely knit together, and apparently free of 
the frothy irresponsibility of our English movement. The Belgians in 
their responsible attitude resemble the Germans — both parties, one 
feels instinctively, are preparing themselves (perhaps prematurely) to 
become H.M. Opposition. Vandervelde, nporeover, the leader of the 
Belgians, is a man of quite exceptional, charm and distinction — a 
scholar and a gentleman. Among the French, Swiss, Dutch and 
Italians, there are individuals who are really “ thinking we felt, 
perhaps, for the first time, how much the collectivist movement 
would gain by a quiet exchange of thought and experience between the 
cultivated and intellectual Socialists of all countries. Such a conference 
will be one of our likely plans for the future. 

October 5th, 1897. — *0 attend Manchester Conference of 
Women. Usual large gathering of sensible and God-fearing folk— 

134 


NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN WORKERS 
dominated by the executive of Bishops’ wives, who give to the pro- 
ceedings an atmosphere of extreme decorum and dignity. I have 
resigned from the executive owing to their persistence in having 
prayers before all their business meetings which, I suggest, is wanting 
in courtesy to the Jewesses and infidels whom they wish to serve 
with them. Some of them agree but say that the Union would lose 
membership if it were not understood to be deliberately Christian. 
Very well: then I have no place on its executive. I remain on sub- 
committees and will keep the Union straight on industrial ques- 

The Bishops’ wives are a nice lot — and I regret parting company 
with them. In spite of their piety they are large-minded — take broad 
views and have the pleasant manners of the great world. They are, 
in fact, “ gentlemen ” to deal with: very different from the narrow, 
intriguing, fanatical little Nonconformists who sit on the Council. 
Possibly it is the predominance of the Lyttelton family that gives 
the governing body of the conference such a sweet and wholesome 
flavour — there being at least three Lytteltons on the executive, whilst 
the sub-committees swarm with younger members of the family. The 
Lytteltons and Louise Creighton are the presiding spirits of the 
conference. 

Louise Creighton now becomes — ^as wife of the Bishop of London 
— one of the great hostesses of London “ society ”. In spite of the 
fact that she is a fervent Christian and I an avowed agnostic, we have 
a warm respect for each other. She is an absolutely straight woman, 
who never swerves from what she believes to be right — is sometimes 
ugly in her brusque directness. She hides with difficulty her dislike or 
disapproval, and so has many enemies, or rather, persons who dis- 
parage her and call her “ bourgeois ” and thick-minded. To Alice 
Green, with her tortuous mind and uncertain ways, Louise is anathema, 

• Report of Conference of National Union of Women Workers, The Times, 
October 29, 1897. 

“. . . Mrs. Sidney Webb moved a resolution to the effect that the business of 
the meeting should not commence with prayers as stated on the agenda. Speaking 
as a ‘ religious-minded agnostic ’, she felt, when she saw the word * prayers ’ at the 
head of the agenda, that if she had not been elected on the committee on false 
grounds, she had been treated with discourtesy by the other members. While 
members of the Jewish persuasion did not object to be present at Christian prayers, 
the sect to which she belonged were not free to take part in them. Roman Catholics 
were differently placed. Agnostics were in anerctremely difScult position; if present 
at Christian prayers they did not like to protest or leave the room or make them- 
selves objectionable. Sire hoped those who participated in the business of the associa- 
tion would not be compelled to take part in the prayers, 

“ Mrs. Greenlees, in seconding, asked Mrs. Webb to substitute ‘ ladies of all 
shades of religious opinion ’ for ‘ Chi'istians ’. 

“ Mrs. Webb : ‘ That will suit me better as it includes Roman Catholics 


135 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
though possibly now that she is the wife of the Bishop of London 
Alice Green may see “ quality ” in her. A calm fine face, a cool 
manner, a somewhat dictatorial mind towards those whose intellects 
or characters she does not respect, Louise is not likely to become a 
popular woman — but she will raise “ society ” to a higher level of 
intellectual sincerity and warmheartedness, and make the world value 
sterling qualities rather than fashion and mere sparkle. 

October 30j?/i, 1897. — So ended my official connection with the 
Bishops’ wives [I write afterwards, when my resolution to dispense 
^ with religious rites was rejected]. I felt, rightly or wrongly, that it was 
necessary to clear up the situation: either the association was dis- 
tinctively Christian or notj if the latter, the executive had no right 
to impose the religious rites of a particular sect on a non-religious 
body; if the former, I was gaining influence on false pretences. It is 
difficult to know when and where it is wise to make a stand, and 
insist on equality of treatment as a matter of principle. But I have a 
distrust of slipping into a sort of quagmire of latitudinarianism, in 
which only the narrow-minded and uneducated persons are allowed 
to have strong convictions. And I feel one must fight against the 
temptation of pushing one’s particular hobbies by sacrificing straight- 
forwardness and intellectual honesty in all other issues. It is strange 
how a meeting is influenced by the way of putting it. My resolution 
had given great offence; and when I rose to move it I felt hostile 
feeling all around. But, with a few frank and gentle words, all the 
hostility vanished; and, though the meeting supported the executive, 
I had won their sympathy and respect, which again reacted on me 
and I felt rather a brute to object to their prayers! The association 
otherwise strikes me as doing good work: Louise Creighton has 
distinctly a statesmanlike mind— and the group of women who now 
control the policy are a good sort: large-minded and pleasant-mannered. 
The “ screeching sisterhood ” are trying to invade them, but Louise’s 
battalions of hard-working religious and sonjewhat stupid women will, 
I think, resist the attack. 

To return to the entry of October 5, 1896: 

One reason I am so fagged is the growth of the social side of 
our work. We are perpetually entertaining — and the opening of the 
School has added a long list of students whom we feel it our duty 
to see and talk to. The usual visit to Oxford — ^48 hours talking — 
propaganda of collectivist views and the expediency of research — 
enjoyable enough this bright discussion with young dons and under- 

136 



POLITICAL STALEMATE 

graduates, but oh ! how exhausting. Sidney lectured twice and we both 
talked incessantly from the breakfast party to tlie last smoke late at 
night. 

The Argoed, January I'&th, 1897. — ^The Conservative Govern- 
ment finds itself paralysed. Except for its sordid grant to landlords it 
has not been able to move backward or to move forward. The Liberal 
leaders are as feeble and half-hearted as ever. But neither party are 
putting forward any alternative policy to collectivism — neither party 
dare take any step, or even make a proposal that contradicts this 
policy. The Conservative Government is being dragged by its own 
Arbitration Act into regulating the conditions of labour: it is being, 
coerced by its promises into spending additional money on public 
education. It will presently have to confess itself bankrupt in proposals, 
or accept the collectivist solution of employee’ liability and old-age 
pensions. In all probability it will do nothing in these matters, and 
the Chamberlain programme of social reform is becoming far too 
complicated for the actor-politician or the accomplished UttSrateur. 
That fact works our way: the collectivists alone have the faith to grind 
out a science of politics — ^and I think they will prove to have the 
capacity. 

February "ird, 1897. — Last night, being the second night of the 
education debate, Gorst entertained a lively party of young people at 
dinner, retiring afterwards to his private room where we laughed and 
smoked, whilst division bells were ringing and count-outs were 
threatening. As we sat on the sofa, Gorst became confidential in a 
curious spasmodic way. “ The newspapers say this is a humiliation 
for me, the Education Bill. But it’s the Duke [of Devonshire] who is 
humiliated. Salisbury told me from the first that I was to be under- 
secretary, and that the Duke would be responsible for the educational 
policy in the Cabinet. The Duke is quite as much against this Bill 
as I am. He told the Cabinet so; and when they insisted he shrugged 
his shoulders! ” From the Education Bill, we passed to the general 
situation. I ventured to say that Balfour was discredited — ^at which 
Gorst looked pleased. “ He doesn’t know anything,” he remarked 
contemptuously, “ we are on the eve of a crisis: there will be a revolt 
presently of the urban Tories. They can’t go on watching their seats 
being taken from under them. As for social reform: all chance of that 
is gojie. When first this Government came into office, tliey honestly 
intended to do something. I know, as a matter of fact, that Salisbury 
said to Chaplin soon after the Government was formed, ‘ Chaplin, 
can’t you do something for the unemployed? ’ ” At this my gravity 
gave way, and Gorst’s eyes twinlded merrily; but, when the others 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
looked up at my laughter, he checked himself and became demure 
and began to talk Indian administration and colonial policy. 

February bth, 1897. — A great gathering last night in Queen’s Hall 
— 900 L.C.C. scholars receiving their certificates from the Prince of 
Wales. Sat close to H.R.H. and watched him with curiosity. In his 
performance of the ceremony, from his incoming to his outgoing, he 
acted like a well-oiled automaton, saying exactly the words he was 
expected to say, noticing the right persons on the platform, maintainuig 
his own dignity whilst setting others at ease, and otherwise acting 
with perfectly polished discretion. But, observing him closely, you 
„ could see that underneath the royal automaton there lay the child 
and the animal — ^a simple kindly unmoral temperament which makes 
him a good fellow. Not an English gentleman: essentially a foreigner— 
and yet an almost perfect constitutional sovereigti. From a political 
point of view, his foibles and vices, his lack of intellectual refinement 
or moral distinction, are as nothing compared to his complete detach- 
ment from all party prejudice and class interests, and his genius for 
political discretion. But one sighs to think that this unutterably common- 
place person should set the tone of London “ society ”. There is 
something comic in the great British nation, with its infinite vai iety 
of talents, having this undistinguished and limited-minded German 
bourgeois to be its social sovereign. A sovereign of real distinction, 
who would take over as his peculiar province the direction of the 
voluntary side of social life, who could cultivate in rich and leisured 
society a desire to increase the sum of real intellectual effort and 
eminence, what might he not do to further our civilisation by creating 
a real aristocracy of character and intellect? As it is, we have our 
social leader proposing in this morning’s papers, as a fit commemora- 
tion of his august mother’s longest reign, the freeing of the hospitals 
from debt — the sort of proposal one would expect from the rank and 
file of “ scripture readers ” or a committee of village grocers intent on 
goodwill on earth and saving the rates! 

My boy spoke a few words to the 900 children at the end, worth 
all the rest of the speeches put together — urging them to remember 
that, as London had helped them, they must seek, in their future 
lives, to serve London. 

May ']th, 1897. — Accident Compensation Bill satisfactory — a sort 
of revolutionary proposal which only a Conservative Government 
could bring in. We should have preferred the state to find the money, 
but that is a detail. Moreover, there are plenty of objects to which 
our extra income-tax can be devoted directly it becomes feasible to 
exact it. The main point — universal compensation without contribution 

138 


PARMOOR 


from workmen — is secured to a certain number of trades only, but 
extension only a matter of time. The limited application of a complete 
principle is far better than the universal application of a dwarfed or 
incongruous principle. 

The Jrgoed^ January lith, 1897. — Christmas with Alfred Cripps. 
Last year he was starting his political life; this year he is well on the 
road to ofEce. He is in splendid spirits; talks with easy critical familiarity 
of Balfour and other leading Conservatives, and gives one to under- 
stand incidentally that he is constantly consulted by them. He is, in 
fact, rapidly becoming a sort of legal adviser, “ a little jewel of an 
advocate ” (as Father used so affectionately to call him) to the Con-^ 
servatlve Party. His tone is the same: save the status quo as legards 
property, and keep the Government in the hands of the upper classes, 
but compromise right and left on all immaterial points and don’t let 
bigots and zealots get the upper hand. Vested interests must be curbed 
and regulated — but preserved. No nonsense from Church dignitaries 
about bossing education, or high-handedness from railway managers 
about their employees — preserve the world from sensations and then 
all will be well. Just at present he is irate about the Financial Relations 
Commission. “ Another piece of Gladstone’s mischief: setting com- 
missions to work to make grievances.” He is still as uninterested as 
ever in investigation. “ Life is a process of cram from the university 
to the Bar, from the Bar to the Front Bench; of course you and 
Sidney who have the good fortune to be able to do original research,” 
he pleasantly remarked, “ are exceptions; but we practical men, who 
look to professional success, know that it is only a question of cram — 
of getting up your case — that is all there is time for.” He is still making 
a large income at the Bar, and spending it lavishly on his constituency, 
home and children. The eldest boy, Seddon, is exhausting pleasures at 
a tremendous rate: this year his bicycle was discarded and he was 
driving about in the smallest dogcart covered with his initials, with 
rug, lamps, etc. to match. Ruth has become more thoughtful and 
looks on rather wistfullys — the mother in her is creeping into view. 

A year’s school has made Leonard commonplace: a year’s home has 
made “ Daddy ” > more exuberant tlian ever. The Playnes were staying 
there; Arthur cross and uncivil; Mary extremely affable and un- 
comfortably anxious to be pleasant. Refused a half-hearted invitation 
to take Longfords on the way here. 

Here follows the first entry about the series of dramatic 
events which led to the South African War; and, incidentally, 

‘ The Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford Cripps at the age of eight. (Ed.) 

139 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 
to splitting of the Liberal leaders into two embittered fac- 
tions : the Liberal Imperialists on the one hand, and, on the 
other, the pro-Boers, with Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
balancing himself uncomfortably between the two. Mean- 
while the Tories and the Liberal Unionists were finally 
merged in the powerful Conservative Party which swept 
the country at the general election of 1 900. 

‘June 1897. — Back in London. Imperialism in the air — all 

classes drunk with sightseeing and hysterical loyalty. Our morning, 
hard at work proof-correcting; in the afternoon and evening friends 
''drop in to welcome us back — Sidney absorbed in catching up arrears 
of L.C.C. work. 

July 8r/i, 1 897. — Dined last night with Alfred Gripps and Margaret 
Hobhouse. Alfred full of Workmen’s Accident Bill. He is organising 
opposition, and scheming with the employers to get in amendments. 
His feelings are a queer combination of anger at the Bill and at 
Chamberlain, helplessness in face of a Government majority, backed 
by the united forces of the opposition, and self-complacency that he, 
at least, perceived the danger and outrageousness of the proposal and 
was doing his lawyer’s best to spike the wheels of this abominable 
legislation. “ It is only the party’s loyalty to Balfour that would carry 
it through,” he said piteously, “ not only is the principle of the Bill 
preposterous but the whole drafting of it is crude in the extreme.” 
He asserted that it killed “ contracting out ”5 “ not one scheme of the 
many that I have seen will stand this Bill He admitted that it meant 
state compensation at no very distant date (I do not feel quite so cock- 
sure about this, it might work out into trade groups). “ It is a 7 'racle 
Union Bill — it makes all in the direction of large establishmeiits — I 
know you like that, I don’t.” Of course, I chaffed him — complimented 
him on the revolutionary character of Conservative reforms. “If the 
S.D.F. had proposed it, it would have been laughed out of court j and 
the Fabian Society would never have thought of such barefaced 
spoliation of one particular class.” “You are a cynic, Beatrice,” Alfred 
responded pleasantly, but looking extremely sore. “ It is one of the 
triumphs of the underground force of the democracy,” said I; “ what 
we are now discovering is that a Conservative majority is a more 
effective instrument of this force than a Liberal Government.” “It 
is those wi'ctchcd urban towns — they are the force behind Chamber- 
lain.” How he dislikes and distrusts Chamberlain. 

July zbth, 1897. — Spent Sunday with Alfred Cripps at Parmoor. 
Obviously disgusted with the ways of Parliament this session. “ Balfour 
140 



SOUTH AFRICAN COMMITTEE 


has no principle,” he plaintively repeated. “ He is perpetually asking 
‘ why not? ’ to the proposals of the Radical wing of the Unionist Party.” 

“ Chamberlain has beaten us; he twirls Balfour round his little finger 
and Salisbury is cynically indifferent to home aflFairs — except, perhaps, 
to the interests of the Church and of land.” At other times, Alfred 
asserted that they had succeeded in getting 8o% of their amendments 
into the Workmen’s Accidents Bill — but it was quite clear that he 
felt the champions of liberty and property had been done in the play 
of the parliamentary hand. “ It is hateful fighting your own party; 
you are not free to use the most telling weapons: if only I could have 
fought Chamberlain from the opposite side of the House! But the 
feeling is growing against him: he will break up the Unionist Party* 
and you will have him back leading your side before tliis Parliament 
is out.” 

“ He is much more useful to us fighting from within the Con- 
servative ranks, my dear Alfred, we shall do our very best to keep 
him there. It is only Conservatives who can make revolutions nowa- 
days, and they are, if anything, more susceptible to democratic pressure 
than the Liberals.” 

Alfred Cripps is, I think, beginning to discover that a Government 
will be flattering and considerate towaj'ds an able young lawyer who 
is ready to advise them and defend them whenever asked; but that 
these amenities cease when he begins to oppose them either overtly 
or privately. 

He talked a good deal about the South African Committee, of 
which he is a member. He was against the production of the telegrams ^ 
on the ground that telegrams passing between co-conspirators were 
not evidence! Throughout the proceedings he had evidently taken a 
somewhat tight-drawn legal view which had been combated by 
Chamberlain. He signified that Harcourt had first been led by 
Labouchere but, having been landed by the latter into some impossible 
position, he had turned round. “ We were surprised at his attitude; 
but, of course, we did our utmost to meet him, it was all-important 
to get the two front benches to agree on one report.” The two witnesses 
who left the worst impression on Alfred’s mind were Hawksley and 
Flora Shaw. But he is evidently disgusted with the whole Rhodes 
party: in spite of his plea that now they are being unfairly treated as 
the result of the reaction. 

July 1897. — ^This was a typical Haldane dinner on the night 

of the South African debate, typical of Haldane’s weakness — -his 

» Probably a reference to the seven “ missing telegrams ” withheld by Cecil 
Rhodes from the Select Committee of -Enquiry into the Jameson Raid. (Ed.) 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

dilettante desire to be in every set; and of his strength — his diffusive 
friendship which enables him to bring about non-party measures. 



July i^th, 1897.- — A great gathering of distinguished dames enter- 
tained at dinner a corresponding number of distinguished men.' It was 
a brilliant and polished set of people — representing a good deal of hard 
work. The dinner, the rooms, the flowers and the dresses were soberly 
luxurious and charmingly tasteful — the three speeches, Mrs. Steel, 
Lady Henry Somerset and the Bishop of London, were eloquent and 
witty — the Bishop excelled himself in the polished “ man of the 
world ” style. Strange person — my friend the Bishop — ^a scholar, a 
cynic, an admirable man of business, and a staunch believer in the 
Church — possibly also a believer in religion as a necessary element in 
society. But his faith is the other side of complete scepticism. His 
attitude towards all things is one of steady depreciation— no good in 
intellect, no good in sentiment, no good in science, no good in politics. 
Since “ good ” exists, there is only one place left for it — tlie Church ! 
The faith that originates in cynical' scepticism is not an altogether 
wholesome constituent towards the making of a church. 

' The dinner referred to in the above entry was the Women’s Jubilee Dinner and 
Soiree, July 14, Grafton Galleries, given by too distinguished women to 100 dis- 
tinguished men, arranged by Mrs. Humphry Ward and the following ladies: Dr. 
Garrett Anderson, Miss Agnes Clerke, Mrs. Mary Davies, Mrs. Fawcett, Mrs. 
J. R. Green, Miss Jane Harrison, Lady Jeune, Miss Mary Kingsley, Lady Dorothy 
Nevill, Miss Flora Shaw, Miss Ellen Terry, Miss Maude 'Valerie White and Mrs. 
Flora Annie Steel. 

Seeing that it was difficult to discover 100 distinguished women, some other 
ladies, among them myself, were called in to advise. I remember that my contribu- 
tion was the principal factory inspectors and the heads of different educational 
institutions. My guest was the Bishop of London. What was remarkable in this 
dinner was that the 100 men were extremely distinguished, including practically 
all the leading politicians with the exception of Lord Salisbury, and many other 
persons of distinctionj the diflSculty being that so many distinguished men were 
left out, who in consequence were offended. 


142 



women’s jubilee dinner 
To which account I add another from the diaries of Sir 
Algernon West.^ 

On July 14th I was asked by Lady Henry Somerset to be one of 
her guests at the dinner of a hundred distinguished ladies of the 
Queen’s reign. The interest was lost from the fact of my not knowing 
who was who, and I wished they had all been labelled! However, Lady 
Henry made a lovely speech and Dr. Creighton a very frivolous one, 
not at all suited to the occasion. Mrs. Annie Steel, the author of 
On the Face of the Waters^ made a poor speech, and that was all, but 
the occasion was a remarkable one, and I fear there was some heart- 
burning among those who were not included in the chosen hundred. 

July 10th, 1897. — Massingham dined here last night. Greatly ex- 
cited about South African debate. “ Superb rope dajicing — Chamber- 
lain’s speech. Hawksley in tlie House ready to produce telegrams and 
letters unless Chamberlain repudiated condemnation of Rhodes. Har- 
court completely taken in, consented to back up Government if they 
condemned Rhodes, and now Chamberlain declares that he accepted 
condemnation as a compromise and, as far as he was concerned, he 
always thought Rhodes a fine fellow. It is superb: it is a delight to 
watch such a man.” And Massingham bubbled over with the joy of 
the political dramatic critic. “ Chamberlain’s career is extraordinarily 
interesting — every day brings its own trick. The career is more in- 
teresting than the man,” added Massingham more gravely; “ he has 
neither the knowledge nor the convictions to make him more than a 
great political artist.” “ Surely,” I rejoined, “ we shall look back on 
the last fifty years of the nineteenth century as the peculiar period of 
political artists: we have no statesmen: all our successful politicians, 
the men who lead the parties, are artists and nothing else. Gladstone, 
Disraeli, Randolph Churchill, Chamberlain, and the unsuccessful 
Rosebery — all these men have the characteristics of actors: personal 
charm, extraordinary pliability and quick-wittedness.” 

October i%th, 1897. — -Met John Morley at a tite-^-tite dinner at 
the Courtneys. He and Sidney anxious to be pleasant to each other. 
A charming person for a talk on literature: but a most depressing 
spectacle as a Liberal leader. In sympathy with no single one of the 
progressive ideas, he clings to his old shibboleths of non-intervention 
and non-expansion abroad, and Church disestablishment and a sort 
of theoretical “ home rule ” at home. When I suggested that, if I 
had supreme power, I would hesitate before I disestablished the 

' Private Diaries of the Rt, Hon. Sir Algernon West, G.C.B., edited by Horace G. 
Hutchinson, 1922, p. 339. 


143 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

Church he seemed aghast. And yet he dare not pronounce in favour 
of his own convictions; he feels instinctively the country is against 
him. To do nothing, and to say nothing, to sit and wait for the tide 
to ebb from this Government is the long and short of his policy. 
Naturally enough he is pessimistic: thinks that all things are going to 
the bad and that the country has lost its intellect and its character. On 
politics he is like a theologian who has begun to doubt his theology; 
in argument he always shrinks away from you, as if he suspected you 
of laying traps for him out of which he could not struggle. A closed 
mind and a lack of pluck in asserting the dogmas that dominate him, 
give a most unpleasant impression of narrow-mindedness and nerve- 
lessness. I shall send him our book; if he reads it, it may antagonise 
him into some living thought. Leonard Courtney, one felt iiistinctively, 
was infinitely more open-minded as well as more robust in intellect: 
was fully prepared to consider new propositions and not in the least 
inclined to run away because he might have to change his mind if he 
stayed to look at them. John Morley is a pitiable person as a politician; 
all the more so because he is conscientious and upright. It makes one 
groan to think of that moral force absolutely useless. 

December loth, 1897. — Perhaps part of my chaotic frame of mind 
is due to dabbling in “ society thought it good opportunity to invite 
some people to dinner since it did not much matter whether I felt 
seedy or not the next day. [We had just passed Industrial Democracy 
through the press.] My little parties are said to be successful, but 
they don’t please me. Directly you entertain for entertaining’s sake, 
then they become hollow and unpleasant. An element of vanity enters 
in and you begin to wonder what impression you make; what your 
friends think of each other, and so on. My conclusion from this last 
month is that the dross in my nature is not yet eliminated ! There is a 
good strong strain of the vain worldling left. Thank the gods, there 
is no trace of such feeling in Sidney. Work and love are the only gods 
he lives for. Oh! my boy, how I love you — past understanding! 

March 1898. — Perhaps the most striking fact of the L.C.C. 
elections [I record a few days after the Progressive victory of March 
1898] has been the complete eclipse of the Liberal leaders. The 
Progressive election committee has spurned their help, has fought the 
whole battle on the non-politidal line. And this contempt for the 
Liberal leaders has not sprung from the extreme left (Sidney thought 
they were carrying it too far and himself had down Lord Ripon at 
New Cross), but from the little knot of Progressive Radicals — Collins, 
McKinnon Wood, Dickinson, etc, Rosebery, it is true, came forward, 
but expressly as a past Progressive chairman of the L.G.C., and himself 


144 



A GOOD RECORD 


disowned any official connection with the Liberals. The official 
London Progressives, men who six years ago would have been only 
too proud of the patronage of an ex-Liberal Cabinet Minister, now 
stand completely divorced from their allegiance to the Liberal leaders, 
and talk of them with habitual contempt as men of no conviction and 
no knowledge. Even Rosebery, whom they are glad enough to use, 
has no influence with them. This victory will strengthen this feeling 
of Independence, if not superiority, to the official Liberal leaders on 
the part of the L.C.C. Progressives. They will more and moi'e regard 
themselves as able and experienced administrators, actually working 
out political problems, whilst they will look on men like Bryce, 
Asquith, Plarcourt, Fowler, either as mere members of a debating 
society, or as London “ society ” men with whom they have little or 
nothing in common. Asquith especially has lost all his prestige in the 
eyes of the London Radical. 

We gather, on the other hand, that there is no repentance on the 
part of the front bench Liberals, at least there was not before the 
L.C.C. election. Not a member of the front bench seems to be working 
at politics; they are either following their own professions or dancing 
attendance on London “ society Their whole attitude is certainly 
astounding: beyond cavilling at the Government, chiefly on foreign 
questions, no one is ever the wiser for their appearances in public. . . . 
I think most Progressives have ceased to read their speeches; even the 
I.L.P. find it precious difficult to criticise “ a negation in opposition 

We, therefore, close this portion of our life with considerable com- 
placency and start on our long journey witlt a light heart.* Our book 
has been extraordinarily well received; our party has recovered a good 
working majority on the L.C.C.; the London School of Economics 
is growing silently though surely into a centre of collectivist-tempered 
research, and establishing itself as the English school of economics and 
political science. We can now feel assured that with the School as a 
teaching body^ the Fabian Society as a propagandist organisation, the 
L.C.C. Progressives as an object lesson in electoral success, our books 
as the only elaborate and original work in economic fact and theory, 
no young man or womait who is anxious to study or to work in public 
affairs can fail to come under our influence. Massingham of the Daily 
Chronicle is again our friend: the Manchester Guardian and the Echo 
are practically our organs through Leonard Hobhouse and W. M. 
Crook, the provincial I/iberal papers are extremely friendly. It is only 
the Westminster, the Daily News, the Star which remain somewhat 
cold and suspicious towards the rising of a new party. But all this does 

I Between April and December 1898, Beatrice and Sidney were touring America 
and Australasia. (Ed.)^ , 

HS L 


SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT 

not mean that “ our set ” is anywhere near office or nominal political 
power. The crust of London Society Liberalism is, as yet, far too hard 
for us to break, and I doubt whether we are not always likely to work 
underground at foundations, upon which a younger generation will 
build, perhaps not quite in the form we intended ! 

To which hubristic passage I will add another entry from 
the diary, revealing the presence of personal vanity coupled 
with a sophisticated conscience: 

February 1898. — The old “ Eve” in me is delighted [I write a 
few weeks before our departure] with buying a trousseau for our nine 
months’ journey. It is a long time since I have had a really good 
“ go ” at clothes: I am revelling in buying silks and satins, gloves, 
underclothing, furs and everything that a sober-minded woman of 
forty can want to inspire Americans and colonials with a true respect 
for the refinements of collectivism. It is a pleasure to clothe myself 
charmingly. For the last ten years, I have had neither the time nor 
the Mull to think of it. For this tour, I harmonise extravagance with my 
conscience by making myself believe that I must have everything new, 
and that I must look nice! I believe that it is a deliberate expenditure. 
For six months ago I determined that I would do myself hand- 
somely But I daresay one or two of the specially becoming blouses 

are the expression of crude vanity; my delight in watching these bright 
clothes being made is a sort of rebound from the hard drudgery of the 
last two years. But it is rather comic in a woman of forty — 40 all but 
two weeks. Forty, Forty, Forty! What an age! Almost elderly. I do 
not feel a bit old! 



CHAPTER IV 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL 
GOVERNMENT 
1899-1905 

Once again, in January 1899, we were back in our little 
home on the Thames Embankment, resuming our work in 
the triple capacity of investigators into social institutions, 
promoters of the newly established London School of 
Economics, and, in the case of the Other One, as chairman 
of the Technical Education Board, a determined organiser 
and agitator, intent on unifying all public education, whether 
elementary, secondary or university — more especially in the 
metropolis — under one local government authority — that of 
the London County Council. 

In this and the following chapter, I shall attempt to 
describe successively these three separate activities from 
1899 to 1906: a difficult task as they seem inextricably en- 
tangled together in the main sources of my information : the 
entries in my diary. 

Why did we decide on English local government as our 
next subject for detailed investigation and analysis? Our 
main reason was that in the course of our previous investiga- 
tions we had found ourselves coming to a new view of the 
scope and purpose of the compulsory association of men as 
citizens, whether national or local. Hitherto, we had in- 
vestigated and described social organisation based on volun- 
tary association: the co-operative and trade union move- 
ments. Already before my marriage I had studied a form of 
voluntary association lauded at the time by idealists of all 
classes, by leading trade unionists, by the more benevolent 
of employers, by Liberal and Conservative philanthropists 
and even by revolutionary Socialists — ^the ideal of Robert 
Owen, the self-governing workshop — as an alternative to 
the capitalist organisation of industry. This ideal was 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
assumed to be the aim of the contemporary co-operative 
movement.* During my two years’ enquiry into this remark- 
able manifestation of working-class organising capacity, I 
had made two separate discoveries. The Co-operators, who, 
with the assent of their intellectual supporters and admirers, 
kept on asserting that the object of their movement was the 
abolition of the wage system and the organisation of industry 
in the interest of the manual working producers, had, in fact, 
by 1889, built up a great industrial organisation of hier- 
, archical character exclusively in the interest of the working- 
class consumers. In doing this, they had offered to the 
community a clear-cut alternative to capitalist retail and 
wholesale trading, and less completely, in the productive 
enterprises of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, to capi- 
talist manufacturing. Unwittingly, the Co-operators had 
performed what is now known as the “ Marxian operation ” : 
they had cut out of the body politic the individual profit- 
maker, exploiting the producer and the consumer alike in 
order to build up his own fortune. Far from abolishing the 
wage system, what they had done was to extend it to the 
brain-worker. What they had abolished was the profit- 
making entrepreneur! Yet, at congress after congress, the 
Co-operators refused to recognise the transfiguration of 

> For an analysis of the ideal of the self-governing workshop, and the reason for 
its failure, as an alternative to capitalist enterprise, not in Great Britain only, but 
also in France and Germany, in spite of a whole century of experiments, see T?ie 
Co-operative Movement in Great Britain, chapter v., on “ Associations of Pro- 
ducers ” (pp. 117-69), by Beatrice Potter, 1891. It is instructive to note that this 
species of organisation flourishes in the industry of the USSR, whilst it is actually 
the dominant type in Soviet agriculture. The success of the industrial co-operatives 
{artels) as well as of the collective farm {kollkosi) under Soviet Communism seems 
to be due (i) to the elimination from the environment of the private profit-maker, 
whether as financier, capitalist employer or wholesale or retail trader; (a) to the 
constant supervision and assistance of the collective farms by the USSR Commissar 
of Agriculture, the Communist Party and the local authorities, in the supply of 
water through irrigation, of unlimited tractors and combines and of plentiful 
fertilisers, supplemented by the continuous advice of scientific experts, almost 
irrespective of cost. The guiding principle is that wherever the self-governing 
association of producers is successful in fulfilling its obligations and in creating a 
peaceful and educational Efe for its members, it is left free to manage as it chooses; 
it is only interfered with when failure threatens, either through the break-up of 
the community through internal discord, or through the failure of its productive 
activities through lack of managerial ability, technical skill or the requisite 
machinery. 


148 



THE HOUSEKEEPING STATE 


their own movement. What I did was to point out this trans- 
figuration, whilst at the same time I explained and justified 
it. My second discovery was that democracies of consumers, 
if they are to be a desirable as well as a practicable alternative 
to private profit-making, must be complemented by demo- 
cracies of workers by hand and by brain — that is, by trade 
unions and professional societies. Hence, when Our Part- 
nership was set up, our first job was to turn the searchlight 
of investigation upon the associations of producers, in their 
most obvious form of trade unionism. 

Meanwhile, the Other One, who had already served 
thirteen years in three different departments of the Civil 
Service, including a whole decade of supervision of half-a- 
hundred separate governments overseas, became a leading 
member of the London County Council, one of the greatest 
of the world’s social institutions divorced from the profit- 
making motive. It was borne in upon us, not merely that 
compulsory association in government had necessarily to be 
added to voluntary association both as producers and as 
consumers, but also that this inevitable compulsory associa- 
tion of man as a citizen was demanded for much more than 
national defence and the maintenance of internal order. We 
saw that to the Government alone could be entrusted the pro- 
vision for future generations, to which neither producers nor 
consumers would attend as such. Moreover, such obvious 
social utilities as public health and universal education, the 
provision for the destitute, the sick and the defectives, like 
that for the orphans and the aged — all of them based on pro- 
vision according to need — involved enterprises to which no 
profit-making could usually be attached, and which were, 
for the most part, outside the characteristic activities or 
desires either of the associated consumers or of the associated 
producers. In short, we were led to the recognition of a new 
form of state, and one which may be called the “ house- 
keeping state ”, as distinguished from the “ police state ”. 
This gave us a new vision of social development. The pro- 
vision of services according to need were, as we thought, 
destined to grow and develop. It was hard to imagine 


I 


t49 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
how this extension could possibly be undertaken and 
administered on the basis of the motive of profit-making, 
even if that motive was held to be essential to every under- 
taking of economic character. Moreover, the start had 
already been made on the contrary principle of a public 
service. The social institutions which had gradually under- 
taken most of what had been done in the way of provision 
according to need, notably for the destitute and the persons 
of unsound mind, were, in England and Wales, the parish 
vestries, the county justices and the municipal corporations, 
to which had been added in 1834 the boards of guardians — 
that is to say, they belonged to local rather than to national 
government. If social institutions based on the motive of 
profit-making were to be increasingly supplemented, or 
superseded, by social institutions conducted by a salaried 
public service — rewarded not by the making of private 
fortunes, but by public honour and special promotion; if 
local administration was destined to rival and even to surpass 
in importance the national Civil Service, it was important to 
discover by what means the various parishes and counties 
and municipalities were, in fact, governed; how their several 
administrations had. arisen in the past and how they were 
now developing; and by what extensions and improvements 
these social institutions could be best fitted for the additional 
tasks that they would find themselves undertaking. Thus it 
was that we decided in 1898 to investigate the structure and 
functions of English local government, intending at the out- 
set to concentrate our attention upon the period from the 
Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, ^"^d the Poor Law 
Act of 1 8 34, to the present day. 

So far, so good: but alasl at this point I had better confess 
that we failed to fulfil our plan of analysing and describing 
the local government of England from 1834 to the present 
time. 

What we had contemplated was an analysis of the local 
government of this generation, with merely a preliminary 
chapter about the antiquities, anterior to 1835, which it had 
superseded. But, in the course of our journeyings up and 
150 



STORY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 


down the country, we found even the present local govern- I * 

ment so firmly rooted in the past, and the past so complicated I 

and obscure, that it became indispensable to us to make I;: 

a special study of the period immediately preceding the 
reforms of 1832-35. At first, we intended to restrict our- 
selves to the first three decades of the nineteenth century. 

Further study convinced us that we could neither understand 
nor make intelligible by itself what was but the tag-end of a 
period opening with the Revolution of 1688. 

The century-and-a-half lying between the dismissal of 
the Stuarts in 1688 and the Reform Parliament of 1832, 
constitutes, for the historian of the internal administration of 
England and Wales, a distinct period of extraordinary sig- 
nificance. For the first time, and perhaps for the last time in 
English history, the national Government abstained from 
intervention in local affairs, practically leaving all the various 
kinds of local governing bodies to carry out their several 
administrations as they chose, without central supervision 
or central control. Even when Parliament was appealed to 
for legislation, it allowed the different localities to have 
practically whatever constitutions and whatever powers they 
asked for; contenting itself with ratifying, in the innumer- 
able local acts of the eighteenth-century statute book, the 
particular projects and compromises of the local interests 
concerned. The experiments in poor law and municipal 
enterprise thus initiated were, we thought, instructive to the 
reformers of to-day. But, besides these experiments in func- 
tion, the diverse origins and varied constitutions of the 
eighteenth-century local authorities seemed to us vital to 
our understanding of*the more uniform pattern of modern 
local government, based on an electorate, at first restricted 
by property qualifications, but becoming, as time went on, 
practically inclusive of all adult inhabitants. 

What sort of output grew out of this miscalculation, what 
exactly did we fail to do, and what did we actually achieve, 
during these six years of strenuous investigation.'* 

Our initial purpose — ^an analysis of English local govern- 
ment as it existed in our own time for the use of would-be 



‘ 5 - 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
reformers as well as students — ^was, as I have already indi- 
cated, not carried out. At the beginning of 1906, we pub- 
lished a ponderous volume on the development of the parish 
and the county between 1689 and 1834, to be followed in 
1908 by two volumes on the manor and the borough for the 
same period. It was not until 1 920 that we issued the most 
original and, certainly, the most significant of our series on 
the constitution of English local government prior to 1834. 
In this last volume — Statutory Authorities for Special Ptirposes 
— we describe the gradual supersession of feudal institutions 
based on mutual obligations of lord and tenant, and of the 
newer mutualities of chartered corporations and guilds, of 
craftsmen and merchants, all alike owing allegiance to the 
King, by a new species of authority, arising directly out of 
the needs of this or that section of the community; such as 
the need for land drainage, and town sewers, for highways, 
for street-lighting and policing, for the regulation of markets, 
and last but not least, for the better relief of destitution 
and the suppression of vagrancy. Many of these authorities 
started as voluntary associations of the consumers of the 
required services, to be subsequently transformed by local 
Acts into compulsory associations of citizens. It was this 
slow but fundamental change, alike in the organism, the 
function and the environment of local authorities, that was 
brought to a climax by the Reform Parliament in the Poor 
Law Amendment Act of 1834, and the Municipal Corpora- 
tion Act of 1835, 

Apart from 'these four volumes, mainly concerned with 
the constitutional development of local government author- 
ities, and only incidentally with their activities, we published 
from time to time during the next twenty years, special 
studies of the doings of local authorities such as The 
Story of the King's Highway^ English Prisons under Local 
Authorities and The History of Liquor Licensing, In only one 
department did we complete our task of discovering and 
analysing the structure, function and social environment of 
a particular species of local government from its first incep- 
tion in the dark ages to its latest development in our own 


152 



THE POOR LAW 


times. In this case, our own researches during the six years 
described in this chapter were continued as part of my work 
as a member of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, 
1905-9. In another chapter, I shall tell how I dovetailed our 
own enquiry into that of the Commission; thus enabling me 
to circulate to my colleagues reports on English poor law 
policy from 1834 to 1906, the municipal health service, and 
other matters, culminating in the Minority Report issued 
as part of the final Report of the Royal Commission on the 
Poor Law in 1 909. But, owing to this and other distractions, 
it was not until 1925 that we published the first volume of 
The History of the English Poor Law (the old poor law), and 
not until 1929 that we were able to issue the second and 
third volumes (the new poor law), describing the doings of 
elected boards of guardians from their inauguration by the 
Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 to their final abolition 
by the Local Government Act of 1929. 

Such was the output from this long drawn-out enquiry 
into English local government. What were our instruments 
and methods of research.? 

Our first step was to find a colleague, free to leave London 
and carry out independently, but according to our plan, the 
investigation into the structure, activities and environment 
of local authorities in this or that part of England. We were 
singularly fortunate in securing straight away, and for six 
years, the services of F, H. Spencer,* to which were added 

* Frederick Herbert Spencer, the son of a chargeman engineer at Swindon rail- 
way works, had graduated into the profession of elementary school teacher at the 
Borough Road Training College. During his time with us he took his LL.B,, and 
afterwards, by a thesis based oq his researches with us, on the Origins of Municipal 
Government, his D.Sc.(Econ.). He left us to become examiner for the L.C.C. 
scholarship system, and head of the commercial school of the City of London 
College. From that position he became one of the Board of Education inspectors 
on commercial subjects, and was stationed in Liverpool. After the war he was pro- 
moted to be H.M. Divisional Inspector of Schools for the N.W. Division. Subse- 
quently he was appointed, at a salary rising from £125° if^ooo a year, chief 
inspector for the whole educational service of the London County Council, from 
which he retired at the end of 1933. Even then he continued his work as educa- 
tional adviser in more than one direction, being, for instance, invited in 1935-36 to 
lecture successively to all the universities of the Dominion of Canada, and to visit 
South Africa and Australasia to investigate certain educational problems. 

He remained with us for some six years, and married our other research secretary. 
Miss Amy Hariison, a B.A. of the University of London, Aberystwyth College, 

. . , =‘53 . 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
in the course of the following year those of Miss Amy 
Harrison. These two investigators settled down, together or 
separately, in town after town, taking elaborate notes of the 
minutes and reports of the local authorities, and making an 
equally detailed study of contemporary local newspapers and 
pamphlets, whilst attending the meetings of the local 
authorities concerned, and interviewing the representatives 
and officials. It is, perhaps, not surprising that, after one or 
two years of this close companionship, they married each 
other. “ We have had constantly to put our heads together 
* to read your illegible instructions; is it surprising that in 
due course our hearts grew together? ” one of them wrote to 
us, in announcing their engagement. I may add that they 
became our lifelong friends. 

At this point, it seems worth while to give to those readers 
who are interested in sociological research, a brief account 
of our method of note-taking. It is hard to persuade the 
accomplished university graduate, or even the successful 
practitioner in another science, that an indispensable instru- 
ment in the technique of sociological enquiry — seeing that 
without it any of the methods of acquiring facts can seldom 
be used effectively — is an exceptionally elaborate system of 
making notes, or what the French call fiches. This process 
serves a similar purpose, in the study of social institutions, 
to that of the blow-pipe and the test-tube in chemistry, or 
the prism and the electroscope in physics. That is to say, it 
enables the scientific worker to break up his subject-matter, 
so as to isolate and examine at his leisure its various com- 
ponent parts, and to recombine the facts when they have 
been thus released from all accustomed categories, in new 

and point author with Miss B. L. Hutchins of the Histofy of the Factory Acts. On 
obtaining her B.A., Miss Harrison was for three years a teacher in a Welsh Inter- 
mediate School, after which she settled in London, at first attending evening lectures 
at the London School of Economics, and there being awiurded the Lucy Rose 
Research Studentship enabling her to become a full-time student at the School. 
There her research into the efects of Factory Act regulation upon the labour of 
women resulted in a thesis with which she obtained the D.Sc.(Econ.) of the Uni- 
versity of London. 

From time to time we engaged extra assistants, and in 1905 Miss Bulkley, 
B.Sc.(Econ.) took the place of Mr. F. H. Spencer as our permanent research 
secretary, and continued with os in this capacity until tgia. 

■ ■ ■■ 154 



METHODS OF NOTE-TAKING 


and expei'imental groupings, in order to discover which 
coexistences and sequences of events have an invariable and, 
therefore, possibly a causal significance. The first item in 
the recipe for scientific note-taking in sociology is that the 
student must be provided, not with a note-book of any sort 
or kind, but with an indefinite number of separate sheets of 
paper of identical shape and size (we found large quarto the 
most convenient form), and of sufficiently good quality for 
either pen or typewriter. The reason why detached sheets 
must be employed, instead of any book, is, as will presently 
be demonstrated, the absolute necessity of being able to 
rearrange the notes successively in different orders; in fact, 
to be able to shuffle and reshuffle them indefinitely, and to 
change the classification of the facts recorded on them, 
according to the various tentative hypotheses with which 
the investigator will need successively to compare these 
facts. Another reason against the note-book is that notes 
recorded in a book must necessarily be entered in the order 
in which they are obtained ; and it is vitally important, in the 
subsequent consideration of the notes, to be set free from 
the particular category in which the note-taker has found 
any particular fact, whether of time or place, sequence or 
coexistence. In sociology, as in mineralogy, “ conglomer- 
ates ” have always to be broken up, and the ingredients 
separately dealt with. To put it paradoxically, by exercising 
your reason on the facts separately recorded and displayed 
in an appropriate way, on hundreds, or perhaps thousands, 
of separate pieces of paper, you may discover which of a 
series of tentative hypotheses best explains the processes 
underlying the rise, growth, change or decay of a given 
social institution, or the character of the actions and re- 
actions of different elements of a given social environment. 
The truth of one of the hypotheses may, by significant corre- 
spondences and differences, be definitely proved; that is to 
say, it may be found to be the order of thought that most 
closely corresponds with the order of things.* 

J The interested student will find deposited in the library at the London School 
of Economics a number of pamphlet boxes containing the sheet of notes, mostly 

155 ; ■■ 



J 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT ■ 
Guided by the subject-catalogue of our ten volumes on 
English local government and this summary account of our 
methods of research, my readers may find some interest in 
the following entries in my diary from 1899 to 1906, giving 
some more intimate and personal reactions of Our Partner- 
ship in this voyage of discovery. 

March yth, 1899. Grosvenor Road. — ^Now that I spend my time 
in. taking notes vigorously all the morning from the minutes of town 
councils as well as writing such letters as are absolutely necessary, I 
^ have little inclination to make entries in my diary. . . . Meanwhile, 
we are well into our new enquiry and have elaborated a syllabus for 
the use of investigators. We have engaged as secretary a clever ambitious 
elementary school teacher — F. H. Spencer — about twenty-eight years 
old. We tried a nice young man straight from Oxford, but he was a 
dead failure, not realising what constituted a day’s work, and presenting 
us with little essays instead of research notes. At present, we seem to 
be nibbling at the outermost corner of our subject. In a year’s time, I 
suppose we shall feel that we have got some sort of grasp of it. I am 

I aiming at living a student’s life: withdrawing from any social excite- 
ment inconsistent with regular work, regular exercise, plain food and 
abundance of sleep. 

Jpril 28/A, 1899. Bradford. — Sidney and I left London on our 
first investigating tour into local government on Thursday before 
Easter Sunday, and chose Leeds as our destination, as S. had promised 
to preside over a conference of elected persons to be held there on 

in the handwriting of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer, and of other assistants, but also of the 
Webte themselves, on the constitutions, activities and social environment of the 
town councils of Leeds and Leicester, of Newcastle and Liverpool, and many other 

1 boroughs, together with many Quarter Sessions and other county authorities. These 
slips of paper, whicUjnust number jn the aggregate m^y tens ofthoiisand^ amount, 
in the case of Leeds, to’ aEoiit 800, and ini that of Ncwcas 3 e to 6505 whilst in some 
cases there is a short summary of the development of the councils from 1S35 to 
1900. Even more voluminous are the notes relating to boards of guardians. These 
include an analysis, according to the type of pauper dealt with, the able-bodied, 
the sick, the children, the mentally defective, not only of the treatment afforded by 
the boards of guardians, but also of the policy laid down in the first instance by the 
Poor Law Commissioners and Poor Law Board, and by its successor the Local 
Government Board, whether in general or specie orders, or in the private letters 
of the government inspector to the board of guardians concerned. This research 
enabled me to present to my colleagues a long memorandum on English Poor Law 
policy, 1834-1906, demolishing once and for all the fiction that the local govern- 
ment board had adhered, tliroughout this period, to the dogma of " less eligi- 
bility ” laid down by tlie Royal Commission of 1834. (See the subsequently pub- 
lished volume entitled English Poor Law Policy, by S. and B. Webb, igio.) For 
samples of these notes see Appendix. 


156 



LEEDS 


Good Friday. I His speech and the conference were an unexpected 
success; all the papers giving full reports. Otherwise, the first week 
of our stay at Leeds was wasted seeing that all the officials were 
holidaying and the public ofiices — even the public library — closed. 
Sidney had an exceptionally bad cold, and the boarding-house we were 
in was dreary after our bright little home. On Thursday of Easter 
week we got to work, having persuaded the Lord Mayor to place a 
room in the Town Hall at our disposal and to give us free use of the 
minutes and reports. For another week Sidney, Spencer and 1 were 
hard at work on these documents. Then we tackled the West Riding 
County Council at Wakefield, and the Board of Guardians and 
School Board of Leeds. In the middle of my stay Sidney had to return 
to London, leaving me and our new secreury to finish up as best we 
might. 

The personalities of Leeds public life are neither interesting nor 
attractive. Leeds and its inhabitants strike me as equally unlovely. 
“ Getting on ”, measured in money, is the dominant idea: the rich 
are conventional and purse-proud; the working-man dull, and without 
fight or faith. In fact the Tory squire and the Tory brewer are more 
public-spirited and more progressive than the lower middle-class 
Liberal. Leeds’ Liberalism is the crudest individualism: negative and 
destructive — anti-state church, anti-public expenditure, the sweeping 
away of what they call “ privilege ” and the bringing in of political 
machinery for securing the equal value of all men’s votes. No faith in 
any motive but that of pecuniary self-interest; no conception of any 
more complicated structure than the universalised ballot box. “ There’s 
not a man at this table, except yourself, that is not worth his ;f^6o,ooo ”, 
is the reported tactful remark of a Leeds alderman to a young London 
barrister who was dining with him. The saving grace, which has kept 
Leeds municipal government free from the grosser forms of corrup- 
tion, has been the childish vanity which makes the ordinary Leeds 
shopkeeper desire to hear himself called “ Alderman ”, still more “ my 
Lord Mayor ”. Social ambition has prevented the motive of pecuniary 
self-interest from Americanising Leeds municipal life. After all, social 
ambition is a form of reverence for something better than yourself — 
the lowest form because the end aimed at is self-advancement — ^still a 
leaven because it means a recognition that some men are superior to 
yourself: which is true. 

There will clearly be no difficulty in getting our material: our 
hardest task will be to determine what material to select, and where 
to stop. Between this diary and myself, I get on better at the actual 

* Note, February 1920. This conference was held in connection with the I.L.P. 
Conference. 1 do not seem to have been interested in the latter. 


157 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
investigation when Sidney is not there: he is shy in cross-examining 
officials, who generally begin by being unwilling witnesses and need 
gentle but firm handling: he hates life in provincial lodgings and 
seeing each day new people, and this repugnance reacts on me and I 
get disheartened and wonder whether I have not led him into a useless 
adventure. In dealing with documents he is far more efficient than I ; 
but, in the manipulation of witnesses with a view of extracting con- 
fidential information, his shyness and scepticism of the use of it give 
me the advantage. And I am more ruthless in the exercise of my craft 
when he is not there to observe and perchance disapprove of my little 
tricks of the trade. 

At the beginning of May 1899, I am back again in 
London recalling the six weeks’ investigation into York- 
shire local government. 

May 1899. Grosvenor Road. — Mrs. Gray of Gray’s Court 
was my hostess at York. Almost a beautiful woman: fine features, 
queenlike figure, generous sympathy and warm-hearted public spirit — 
a perfection made less perfect by dramatic attitudes and an untrained 
mind. The old-world house, built into the city walls, and overlooking 
the Dean’s garden, was a welcome change from the Leeds boarding- 
house with its ugly furniture and still uglier inhabitants. But, thougli 
unspeakably pleasanter, the few days I spent at Y ork were less fruitful 
because I had to talk in return for my entertainment and came tired 
each day to work on the minutes. Mrs. Gray is a guardian, and her 
tales of the way in which outdoor relief is administei'ed confirmed my 
observations of the relief work of the Leeds Board of Guardians, when 
I sat and watched them. The lay representatives of the ratepayers 
make a bad court to administer money payments which ought to be 
given according to definite principles — ticcording to a code of law. 

From York I went on to Beverley to look into the administration 
of the East Riding County Council. John Bickersteth, with whom I 
stayed, is the son of a Bishop, married to L?.dy Margaret, a pious old- 
maidish little woman. He is an athletic, attractive man of the cointtry 
gentleman type, who bicycles into Beverley about 1 1 o’clock and 
comes out by the 3.30 train; takes life in a leisurely fashion and 
accepts with kindly tolerance the “ little people” who have joined the 
country gentlemen in county administration since the election of the 
new county councils. He is a Yorkshire Whig, far too gentlemanly to 
share the old radical shibboleths, but quite unaware that there is a new 
school of radical collectivism growing up. Fortunately, he endowed 
me with all liis reports, otherwise my visit would have been wasted, 
as he insisted on entertaining me the whole time; and, eventually 

158 


MANCHESTER 


despairing of getting to work, I went off for a ride with him and 
extracted what information I could about county government between 
pleasant gossip about men and affairs. He took me to see the town 
clerk of Beverley, a cynical, vulgar, but able man who was obviously 
delighted to call the aristocratic county clerk “ Bickersteth 

How much have I learnt in my six weeks’ investigation? A vision 
of the tangle of local government: of the independence of the county 
boroughs, the recalcitrant defiance of the non-county boroughs, the 
shadowy authority exercised over them by the county councils; the 
grumblings of the district councils at the C.C.’s proddjngs, the appeals 
of the parish councils to the C.C. against the neglect of work by the 
district councils — the universal rivalry and sometimes actual litigation 
between various grades of sanitary authorities over incorporations and 
extensions of boundaries, over water catchment areas, tramways and 
hospitals. Then again, tlie mechanical grindings of the school board 
and the short-sighted stinginess of the boards of guardians, and in the 
dim and distant Whitehall the old-womanish L.G.B. threatening, 
obstructing, auditing and reporting— mostly without effect. It is not 
a vision of lucid beauty: but it is intensely human. 

Tlie town chosen for our next centre of investigation was 
Manchester, where I spent most of the summer, the Other 
One joining me now and again, and permanently for the 
August recess. 

June 15M, 1899. Manchester . — ^The third week here. Sidney 
stayed for a fortnight, and has now returned to his L.C.C. work. We 
got straight away into our enquiry and we have been working every 
day, Spencer at the minutes of the Town Council, and Sidney and I 
at interviewing officials and abstracting reports lent or given to us. 
Two delightful Sundays we spent in the lanes of Cheshire: one night 
at Tarpoiiey where, seven years ago, he and I stayed as an engaged 
couple with Mrs. [Alice Stopford] Green as chaperone. Those Sundays 
were very happy days, hqpeymoon rambles, dodging the high-roads 
and finding ourselves in farmyards. 

At times we get discouraged at the bigness of our task: then we 
console each other by repeating “ Well, if we cannot do it no one 
else can ”, a conceited reflection. To-day I am feeling somewhat 
lonely in the little lodging— a whole fortnight away from him. . . . 

Here I will insert an entry which does not directly con- 
cern the subject-matter of this chapter, but which gives a 
glimpse of the background of social distraction in which I 
lived. 


159 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

July 1899. Grosvenor Road . — ^This last month of liot diy 
weather has been spent mostly in entertaining American and colonial 
friends. Some four mornings of each week have been spent at the 
British Museum scanning files of the Manchester Guardian and taking 
copious notes. Miss Fairchild, a charming Boston girl, has been staying 
with me and I have had a succession of little dinners for her enter- 
tainment. Our small circle of acquaintances is pleasant enough ; easy- 
going, unconventional and somewhat distinguished. We are sought but 
do not seek — the most agreeable way of seeing people. Not that 
“ society ” pays us continuous attention: we are only casually found 
out by persons belonging to the great world — we live in a pleasant 
back-water of our own. But our social status, such as it is, is distinctly 
advantageous to the local government enquiry: it enables us to see 
any official from whom we want information. We are not going to 
have any trouble about getting access to facts: the task will be to select 
out of the mass of material submitted to us. 

To return to our Manchester investigation, here is the 
impression I got from five weeks’ work on workings of 
municipal government in that city: 

September (^th, 1899. Grosvenor Road . — Five weeks in Manchester 
in a little rented house, with our own maids to look after us, and our 
secretary to help us — peaceful happy time, collecting material and, by 
a well-regulated life, keeping fit for persistent work. We are more 
interested in this enquiry than in trade unionism: the problems are 
multitudinous and the machinery intricate. The least invigorating part 
of the subject-matter are the persons engaged in the work of local 
government: in the present administration of English provincial local 
government there is a singular lack of idealism and charm, of efficiency 
and force. 

The Manchester Town Council turns out to be no better than that 
of Leeds. The most marked feature is the way in which the magnitude 
and importance of its work has outgrown its,organisation. The different 
parts of the machine are out of joint; it rumbles on in some sort of 
fashion because it is pushed along by outside pressure, but it is always 
breaking down in the efficiency of its administration. The Council, 
judged by this test, would seem to be inefficient or corrupt o:' both. 
The men running the organisation are not a bad lot: one or two of the 
officials are distinctly able. But there is no head to the concern, no one 
who corresponds to a general manager of a railway company, still less 
to its paid chairman. The Mayor, elected for one year, has all his time 
absorbed by public meetings, social functions or routine administra- 
tion: he is far more the ceremonial head of the city than the chief of 
160 



MANCHESTER 


the executive of the city government. The town clerk and his deputy 
are exclusively engaged in legal and parliamentary businessj they spend 
most of their time in the lobbies of the House of Commons, in present- 
ing the corporation’s case at L.G.B. enquiries, in preparing leases and 
drafting agreements or in submitting bye-laws to government depart- 
ments. 

The suggestion that the town clerk of a great city like Manchester 
can be anytliing more than its solicitor and parliamentary agent — can 
fill the place of its chief executive officer — is, as things are at present, 
an absurdity. All the other city officers are technicians, accountants, 
engineers and medical men. The city surveyor and the M.O.H. are 
neither of them markedly competent and they have the status, not of 
administrators, but only of consultants called in whenever the chair- 
man or secretary of one of the standing committees deems their advice 
necessary. The city treasurer is a promoted clerk; the chief constable 
a promoted policeman. With one exception, the administrative head 
of a department is the secretary of the committee supervising its work. 
Hence, the services of gas and of water, of tramways and markets, 
and even the rivers department, are all managed by promoted clerks 
with no professional training for their work. In fact, there is only one 
real executive officer who understands the technique that he has* to 
supervise — a man named Rook, the superintendent of the sanitary 
department who, though he entered the Council’s service at 30s. a 
week, has beconie a technician at his own job, and may be trusted 
to see that any given piece of work is carried through from its inception 
to its completion. To make confusion worse confounded, each com- 
mittee considers itself like an independent company, and reports as 
little as it dare to the Town Council, which meets once a month, and 
is regarded by the chairman and members of each committee as a 
superfluous body which ought not to intervene. 

These committees nominate their own members for election each 
year, and the tradition is that the committee must always be united in 
face of the Council. Hejice, the atmosphere of secretiveness towards 
the Council, and of suspicious hostility on the part of those members 
of the Council who do not happen to be elected on the leading com- 
mittees. Some of the committees are dominated by pereons who are 
grotesquely unfit: for instance, the markets committee has had for 
years an illiterate tailor as chairman. In other cases the committee 
ts run by a really able and upright man, but even he will pride himself 
on managing it “ as I should my own business he resents mightily 
any criticism of his policy or methods. In short, there is nobody whose 
special business it is to see that all parts of the organisation are co- 
ordinated and working to a common end. Friction and petty scandals, 

161 M 



ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

accusations and recriminations, dog the Council’s work. All this 
secretiveness and jealousy of control does not attain its object — if that 
be a quiet administrative life. Tales of peculation and jobbery, most 
of which are, I believe, untrue, get abroad through a malicious 
member or a resentful [elective] auditor who finds the accounts too 
much for his understanding. The rejoinder of the committees to all 
these stories, true or false, is always still more secrecy, with the result 
that tlie Council becomes enveloped in a permanent cloud of presumed 
stupidity and corruption. 

So far as we have made the acquaintance of the councillors there 
are none very good, and none very bad. I hav^e not picked out any 
who seem to be “ rotters The abler among them are all old men — ‘ 
a little gang of Liberals who are still the salt of the Council. The 
social status is predominantly lower middle-class, a Tory solicitor and 
an I.L.P. journalist being the only men with any pretension to culture. 
The abler administrators have no pretension to ideas, hardly any to 
grammar: they are merely hard-headed shopkeepers, divided in their 
mind between their desire to keep the rates down and their ambition 
to magnify the importance of Manchester as against other cities. 
There is no cleavage on the Council according to policy — the Council 
drifts into subsidising the [Ship] canal or working its own tramways, 
or into “ direct labour ” in its public works, almost without deliberate 
thought, and certainly without any discussion either of principles, or 
of the special circumstances, which make for or against the proposal 
before the Council. The Council, in fact, fumbles along by the method 
of trial and error; but it has its head in the right direction pushed by 
outside force. But who is initiating tlris force? There seems no person, 
or group of persons, at work. It is more like the result of an impersonal 
current of ideas affecting all the persons concerned without their being 
conscious of them. 

October lOth, 1899. — We saw little of the city government of 
to-day [I jiote after staying with Sister Holt in Liverpool], spending 
all our energies on the most interesting minutes of the old select 
vestry and on the documents of the town Kali. Liverpool strikes us as 
more efficient than Manchester, a close ring of officials having i-e- 
placed the petty incompetence of the committee system characteristic 
of Manchester town government. But there is a long tradition of 
corrupt dealing with publicans and other propertied sinners — at least 
so say the Liberal families of Holts and Rathbones. Munificent public 
work has been done at Liverpool by some of the wealthy Unitarian 
families, but these families are petering out, and the sons are not 
worthy of the fathers. Whether this is inevitable to all families, or the 
bad effect of two or three generations of luxury, I do not know. The 
i6a 


LIVERPOOL 


present generation of rich folk want to enjoy themselves, find nothing 
to resist, no class or creed interest to fight for, so tliat they have 
ceased to consider anything but their pleasures. 

October 1899. Grosvenor Road. — So far we see straight in front of 
us the way we shall go for the next few years. Our enquiry is stretching 
out before us, arduous, requiring patience and persistency, but by no 
means impracticable. For the rest there is the Economic Faculty to 
build up, and our share in administration and propaganda. Our 
finances are sound, our health good, and there is no reason for anxiety. 
We must spend, if need be, our capital on our work, and we must not 
be disheartened by its magnitude. We are fast becoming elderly, we 
have not so many years left, we must make the best of our talents and 
leave the future to take care of itself. And it is useless to be down- 
hearted because of the indifference and stupidity of the world, even as 
regards its own true interests. And it is childish to yearn after some 
sanction to the worth-whileness of human effort. For us who “ know 
not ”, this sanction is unattainable: we can but follow the still small 
voice of moral Instinct which Insists that we shall seek truth and love 
one another. Is the sanction the calm happiness in work: the peaceful 
delight in living? 

November 30M. Grosvenor Road. — Immersed every morning in the 
reading of documents in some municipal office: can’t manage more 
than four good hours. Two afternoons I am due at the School: to 
lecture or to see students. Another afternoon I am at home, and the 
other afternoons get filled up with calls, casual committee meetings 
and exercise. But we are sufficiently advanced in our work to contem- 
plate beginning to write when we return from Plymouth in January. 

December le^th. Grosvenor Road. — Spencer, Mildred Sturge and I 
spent a week over the St. Pancras vestry minutes. We have taken on 
Mildred Sturge, a Newnham graduate, as a sort of paid apprentice. 
She is not able, but accyrate and painstaking. An expedition to 
Norwich in bitterly cold weather to start a Miss Watson on the 
Norwich records ends our autumn campaign. Next week we go to 
Plymouth for the Christmas recess to undertake the records there. I 
begin to grasp the character of local government at the beginning of 
this century. When we return we shall hew out of our accumulated 
material the first draft of our first chapter. 

January 2 '^ St, 1900. Torquay.— for three nights attending an 
enquiry into borough extension. 

A month at Plymouth at work together, with Spencer to help us. 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

at the Plymouth records [I recall, before reporting on the extension 
enquiry]. For recreation we had two days’ wanderings on bicycles over 
Dartmoor in mist and rain, one or two walks with Sidney on Mount 
Batten, and pacing alone over the Hoe watching the setting sun after 
the day’s work was done. Otherwise, we stuck closely to our note- 
taking and interviewing. I remember when we were steaming through 
the tropics and I was visualising our work for the next few years, I 
dreaded the thought that we should have to spend all our time out of 
London in towns: I feared that my health and my spirits would break 
down with sedentary office work in places like Leeds, Manchester 
and Liverpool, without the long holidays in the country we were 
accustomed to. But our life during the last year turned out not half 
bad: the enquiry has been unexpectedly interesting: my health ex- 
cellent, and the occasional 48 hour cycling in country lanes round 
about the towns, a joy and a delight — making up in intensity of 
pleasure for the longer holidays in the country. Sidney has been well, 
interested, and happy: every day brings greater confidence in the 
worth-whileness of this continuous study of facts and careful reasoning 
from them. 

And here is a somewhat denigrating report of what seemed 
to me futile proceedings: 

Three days sitting in bad atmosphere listening to the argument 
whether or not St. Mary Church and Cockington shall be included 
in the borough of Torquay. I had an introduction from T. W. Russell 
of the L.G.B. to the inspector who was holding the enquiry, one 
General Crozier; and I happened to light on the hotel where he and 
two of the leading counsel engaged in the case were staying. Un- 
fortunately, the hotel was small and crowded, so that tltere was not 
much opportunity for confidential talks with judge and counsel; and 
the local men were too flustered to give me much information. But I 
quickly made friends with three out of the five counsel — Littler, 
Richards and Duke; Littler being a useful acquaintance seeing that 
he is chairman of Middlesex Quarter Sessions, the records of which 
we have to go through. General Crozier is a gouty and slow-minded 
old West End clubman, past his work, even if he were ever capable 
of it— -a relic, I imagine, of the era of barefaced jobbery of appoint- 
ments. I am not impressed with the quality of the legal ability present 
at the enquiry. Perhaps these extension cases do not lend themselves 
to a careful mustering of proven facts or to subtlety of argument. 
Heareay evidence as to the wishes of this or that section of the popula- 
tion and jumbles of irrelevant considerations, the reiteration of stock 
arguments for or against extensions of boundaries in general, such as, 
164 



TORQUAY 

“ the larger areas mean more efScient administration ”, or, “ a smaller 
area is more conducive to keen interest ”, that a particular district is 
or is not the outgrowth of an older inhabited area, that borough 
government is more desirable than that of an urban district council, 
that the amenities of the borough are or are not shared with the sur- 
rounding districts — I felt that I could have reeled it all off mechanically 
if I had just been told on which side I was to plead. As to the evidence 
it was all of the nature of personal opinions, obviously ex parte opinions: 
no attempt was made to prove the truth or the falsehood of all this 
assertion, and counter-assertion. Then there is tlie silly badgering of 
inexperienced witnesses. “ Will you answer yes or no, Mr. Jones? ” 
when in the opinion of the nervous witness “ Yes ” would be mis- 
leading, and “ No ” inaccurate. It was easy to see that any facts 
obtained, and many not obtained, by this expensive process could have 
been got by a couple of experienced investigators examining witnesses 
quietly in their homes as well as documents which had not been faked 
for the occasion. Littler and Richards lent me their briefs to read and 
it was quite clear to me, as I sat and listened to the proceedings, that 
the K.C.’s drawing huge fees had added nothing whatever to the facts 
or the arguments prepared for them by the local solicitors. The cul- 
minating absurdity of the proceeding is that, if the decision of the 
L.G.B. inspector (who by the way took little or no interest in the talk 
of the counsel) is not accepted by the parties concerned, the whole case 
will have to be argued out again before a parliamentary committee. 
Personally, I came out of the court not having heard one of tlie issues 
raised adequately cleared up — certainly not the general issue of larger 
or smaller areas of administration. At present I am divided in my 
mind between the desirability of large municipal boroughs and the 
expediency of keeping alive the old historic county and, therefore, the 
minor local autliorities under county jurisdiction. 

June 12th, 1900. Leicester . — Staying in a rough boarding-house, 
the best in Leicester, for a fortnight’s investigation. It is kept by a 
woman of character and jntelligence but a bad housekeeper. House 
dirty, meals rough and monotonous, and service inefficient but willing. 
We pay ^2 : 2 ■. 0 z. week each and have a good bedroom and small 
sitting-roomj our meals with some half-a-dozen other lodgers, four 
harmless business men and two women of the usual boarding-house 
type. Everyone is good-tempered and well-mannered; and the other 
lodgers either do not feel the roughness, or are too good-tempered to 
object to it. Sidney feels the discomfort more than I do. No doubt 
my greater intentness on the enquiry makes up for a good deal in my 
case. In his case the need for investigatiotn is not a part of his personal 
life and aims, which are administrative. 

165 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

In our MS. notes in Sidney’s handwriting, I find the 
following summing-up of our general impressions of 
Leicester municipal government: 

Summing up at the end of a fortnight, our general impression con- 
firms our particular notes. 

The new coiporation started in 1835 with a remarkably able town 
clerk (Stone), and a set of able, honest and socially influential men — 
wholly Liberal and Nonconformist, mostly Unitarian — belonging in- 
dustrially to the upper middle-class of the time — bankers, hosiery 
manufacturers and professional men. Partly in reaction against the 
prodigal and corrupt Tory administration, their dominant idea was to 
administer the public property honestly and economically — to pay low 
salaries, to contract wherever possible, to pay off debt by prudent sales 
of land. Notwithstanding this bias, and the hard times of the “ forties ”, 
when sanitation came up they were (under Whetstone) ahead of public 
opinion — ^appointed a medical officer and a staff of temporary inspectors 
to discover nuisances, which they peremptorily ordered to be abated. 
They had (under Whetstone) a horror of overgrown establishments, 
and thus shrank from enlarging functions — subsidised a Water 
Company (eventually taken over). They were, in fact, more like 
Leeds and Manchester. 

Intensely political — always voting petitions in Liberal and Non- 
conformist interest — ^appointed all Liberal mayors atad aldermen and, 
apparently. Liberal chief officials. The procedure was good, and reports 
of committees full; but it was adapted to a group of personal friends — 
Stone, town clerk, was friend and solicitor to all the leading councillors. 
The relationships would have been invidious, if they had not been 
men of high honour; they were simultaneously chairmen and directors 
of railway, water and gas companies, which they, as a corporation, 
had to control and deal with, they bought land of themselves, they 
were related with Stone and everyone else by marriage. But they left 
a tradition of highest integrity and always doing their best for the town. 

This state of tilings continued certainly until Stone’s death about 
1870. After interregnum of unsatisfactory successors for a couple of 
years or so, the Council fell back on Stone’s clerk (Storey), a shrewd 
but uncultivated man of no social position or professional status. He 
was assiduous in the office, attended all committees, and carried on 
traditions of Stone, During this 20 years (1874-1894) there was an 
involuntary expansion of corporate activity, taking over water and 
gas, flood prevention and sewerage works, etc., and finally in 1891 
extending boundaries. 

This was a period of great industrial expansion of Leicester; and, 
166 



LEICESTER 


with the boot tradcj the uprise of a new and somewhat rough class 
of employer. Gradually, the old families of Paget, Whetstone, Ellis, 
Johnson, etc., dropped out of municipal life — becoming M.P.’s and 
semi-county people — if remaining in Leicester, tending to become an 
aristocracy. 

In i8gi, with the election of the whole Council on the extension 
[of boundaries], the remnants of the above either retired, or were pushed 
on one side. Two new elements came to the front— the new capitalist 
traders and boot manufacturers (e.g. Hart, Wood, Leonard, Marshall), 
arid the workmen. All evidence shows there was a great change. It is 
said that the new capitalists were more influenced by desire to improve 
their social position through municipal office than the old. At the same * 
time, the workmen, as electors and as councillors, brought in motives 
of social improvement, propaganda, and conscious class interest. 

The net result, since 1891, is that the Council has become much 
more progressive and democratic in sympathy; and, as the defect of 
this quality, more discordant and worse-mannered. This has been a 
further bar to any of the old “ aristocracy ” entering it. 

The procedure, well enough adapted for a little party of friends, 
has not changed. The committees are now too secret, and have too 
much delegated to them — no provision for adequate publicity, or 
adequate control by Council. This leads to government by a c/ique 
(Wood, Leonard and Vincent), not on party lines, but on basis of 
satisfying personal power and ambition, and mutual protection. This 
has led to suspicions of the clique, and their friends getting indirect 
financial advantages, but no actual corruption is alleged. 

Our impression is that the chief officers have, during the past decade, 
not been chosen on political lines, but rather for their probable sub- 
serviency to the clique. The ablest is evidently Colson, the gas manager. 
The new town clerk (Bell) did not improve on acquaintance; and we 
now judge him to belie his appearance of ability and solid qualities, by 
lack of experience, industry and zeal. He is, however, immensely 
thought of by many people in the town, and through his gentlemanly 
manners and good appearance carries great weight with rank and file 
of the Council. 

The School Board is said to have begun in 1871, by having able 
educational enthusiasts and to have had two good chairmen in suc- 
cession; then a steady-going business man, and now a weaker ditto — 
the clerk is a mere clerk. One great aim seems to be to avoid publicity. 

It strikes us as an inferior edition of Leeds. 

The Board of Guardians has always been considered far inferior 
to the Council and School Board— is said now to be rather like the 
rank and file of the Council, several small men are on both. Rather a 

167 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
rise since 1 894 — ^advent of six women, vote by ballot, and real election. 
[S. W.’s entry.] 

At this point I will again insert an entry which, while 
reflecting my permanent interest in our joint investigations, 
relates to our other activities and describes the social 
environment of our daily existence. 

May 'i%nd, 1900. Grosvenor Road . — ^The next eight years seem 
likely to settle how useful we shall be to our generation. Our effort is 
now directed to one end — to establish on a fii-in basis a science of 
society. We are trying to bring this about partly by the School of 
Economics. Sidney’s persistent energy has attained at least a formal 
success for the School. We have gained university status, we have 
secured a building and a site, and we have the prospect of a regular 
income; we have attracted studetits, and we are training teachei's. 
But how far tlie new activity will prove to be genuine science and not 
mere culture or shallow technical instruction, remains to be seen. The 
same doubt with regard to our own work. We are lavishing time and 
money on the investigation, doing it in an extravagantly complete 
manner. Shall we have the intellectual grasp to rise superior to our 
material — or shall we be simply compilers and chroniclers? It is only 
in rare moments that I have any vision of the book as a whole; at most 
times I am dazed by the intricacy and technical detail of the subject. 
Have we “ bitten off more than we can chew ”? It may be the time 
is not yet come for a sound science of social organisation. Anyway, 
we have faith that the beginning will be brought nearer by our effort, 
even if it fails to attain for us any kind of personal success. But, if we 
are to think out the development of local government in all its different 
phases, from our chaotic notes, it is clear that I must be free from the 
distractions of London life. Relations, old friends, continental and 
American admirers, students and persons who can help us in our 
investigatioJi — ^all have to receive their due^imount of attention. I am 
on excellent terms with the family — the sisters have taken to us and 
are beginning to wish that we should see much of them and their 
children; this means the giving and taking of dinners, chaperoning 
girls on bicycling parties, putting up public schoolboys on their trips 
to London. The old friends seem to look reproachful when one evades 
their offers to call or refuses blankly to lunch or dine with them. Then 
again students. Here I acknowledge a duty— one is bound to do one’s 
little to helping forward younger persons, less fortunately placed than 
oneself, to the pathway of research and investigation. Lastly, there are 
a multitude of persons one ought to see in connection with local 
168 



NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE 


government. And, as a penalty for possessing a social conscience, in 
the background of all other distractions, the ghostly forms of all sorts 
and conditions of men, who have helped me in the past to get informa- 
tion on the subjects I was investigating — employers, philanthropists, 
trade unionists, co-operators. The only way out of the whole tangle 
is to get out of London. This we will do next spring. 

The eight weeks’ recess from London County Council 
administration was spent in Northumberland.* 

September l^th. Newcastle-on-Tyne. — Staying here to start Miss 
Kitson on the local minutes. Our vacation at an end. Five weeks in 
St. Philips Vicarage, the home of a high church Anglican priest, who 
is also a socialist, up on the high ground in a working-class quarter. 
The house was badly built and designed, but pleasantly appointed, 

' After turning over the 650 or so separate pages of notes I recall our general 
impression of Newcastle municipal government between 1835 and 1900. 

(1) The exceptional potential wealth in land ownership, in port facilities and in 
the right to levy town dues, which the corporation possessed when it started on 
its career as a representative body. 

(2) Not unconnected with this exceptional corporate wealth was the continuous 
presence on the town council of distinguished local capitalists, including, for 
instance, chairmen and vice-chairmen, directors and shareholders of the railway 
company and of the local joint-stock companies that supplied the inhabitants 
with gas and water, with toll bridges and tramways; together with the principal 
local ship-owners, ship-builders and important traders. 

(3) The outstandingly favourable terms which these business men habituallyobtained 
from the corporation as buyers and lessees of its land and its port facilities, and 
in their arrangements for the composite payment of town dues, and in the 
control of the gasworks, waterworks and tramways. 

(4) The absence of party politics and the infrequency of electoral contests, owing 
to the current agreement between the local Tories and the local Whigs not to 
contest seats on the town council unless the holders voluntarily retired. 

(5) The complete absence of any consciousness, on the part of these eminent 
business men, that they were in any way acting otherwise than strictly honour- 
ably in their continuous stream of dealings with the corporation that they con- 
trolled in getting something for nothing at the expense of their fellow-citizens. 
In this way they contrasted with the “ professional politicians in New Y ork and 
other cides, who were fully aware that they were selling “ franchises " and other 
favours to big business, atfd failing to enforce the laws regulating the sale of 
alcoholic liquor and suppressing immorality. 

(6) In contrast with the Birmingham Town Council, and in the last decade of the 
century also with the London County Council, the capitalists who dominated the 
Newcasde Town Council were honestly devoted to the doctrine of laissez-faire, 
which yielded conclusive arguments against undertaking improvemerits in the 
housing, education and sanitation of the poorer inhabitants of their city, as 
matters of public concern and common well-being. It was this naive synthesis 
between their economic creed and their pecuniary self-interest which enabled 
them to carry out the policy of exploitation of the corporate wealth for private 
profit without self-condemnation, and even without public blame from their 
fellow-citizens. This, self-complacency became impossible with the rise of a new 
political party inspired by the growth of municipal socialism practised in 
Birmingham and London. 

169 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
with a good library of theological and devotional books. Our im- 
pressions of Newcastle local government, not flattering — even worse 
than Leeds or Liverpool — ^are given fully in our notes. The weather 
was detestable so that we had little temptation to desert our work; 
and, by the end of the time we were both of us ready for our delightful 
holiday at Bamborough. 

Three weeks we spent lying in a tent on the sand, watching the 
sea, or cycling over moorland and mountain, or wading out to rocks 
or islands — a quite enchanting holiday. We took with us masses of 
books, chiefly works on the Oxford movement — n continuance of the 
theological taste we acquired at the Vicarage; also Perthes’ memoirs, 
lent us by a remarkable Newcastle man. Dr. Merz (whose acquaint- 
ance we had made), and his own History of Thought. 

I have found true refreshment in this theological reading — a change 
of thought and an exercise of feeling. Specially interested in the 
Catholic religion as mental hygiene and discipline of the emotions, 
an authoritative guidance to the motive of conduct. There is so much 
energy and happiness wasted in everyone’s life through lack of single- 
heartedness, through the presence of evil or unworthy feelings. The 
Catholic discipline has a traditional — ’and no doubt empirical — wisdom 
in training of character and the direction of the emotions. I have no 
special sympathy with the ascetic saint, yet the world could do with a 
good deal more physical self-control, humility and disinterested love, 
without human beings losing their effectiveness. All this experience 
was, it seems to me, thrown clean avvay with the Protestant Reforma- 
tion, Perhaps other qualities were gained: but it is easier for me to see 
the loss than the gain. 

Sometimes Sidney and I feel that we can hardly I’epay by our work 
the happiness and joy of our life. It seems so luxurious to be able to 
choose what work one will do, according to one’s faith in its usefulness, 
and do that work in loving comradeship. The next ten years will 
prove whether we arc right in devoting our energies to the establish- 
ment of a science of society, and whether the amount of scientific 
work we have mapped out for ourselves is not beyond our powers. 
But all that we arc responsible for is the single-hearted devotion of our 
talents, whether of capacity, means or position, to the work one be- 
lieves in. With Sidney this is comparatively easy; with me it is always 
a struggle to keep my mind from wandering off into foolish rotnan- 
cings. It is in this self-discipline that I find the need and the truth of 
prayer. 

From January 1901^ to December 1905, the date of my 
appointment as a member of the Royal Commission on the 

'v-iyo ; 



LULWORTH 




Poor Law and Unemployment, the MS. diary is mainly 
concerned with the two other activities of Our Partnership; 
the furtherance of the London School of Economics, and 
the propaganda, open and concealed, for the unification of 
all education from the infant school to the university, under 
the London County Council. But, in order to complete the 
tale of our local government enquiry before it was merged in 
that of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, I give the 
following entries, which can be skipped by all those who 
are not interested in the tiresome struggle with masses of 
material involved in sociological research. 


April 24//J, 1901. Churchfieldy West Luluiorth, Dorset . — A large 
thatched cottage with low straggling rooms, plain, clean but not too 
comfortably furnished, has been our living place for the last three 
weeks. The village is in a hollow of the chalk downs, without trees, 
and cut off from the sight of the sea. F rom our sitting-room window 
we look on to the road, then a hedge and then an orchard, beyond — 
other thatched cottages. But, once on the downs, there are glorious 
stretches of well-shaped hill and abrupt chalk cliff, expanses of sea and 
sky, and, on the other side, the most beautiful plain of heath and moor 
and wooded promontory, with bright little rivers running in all direc- 
tions except sea-ward. The colouring these last days has been exquisite, 
the sea — sapphire, amethyst, emerald, moonstone — the white chalk 
cliff rising out of it in mysterious lines of white, pink, grey, the brilliant 
yellow gorse in the foreground and, on the other side, the dark russet 
of the yet unfolded beech buds, the dull green-black of the fir, and the- 
rich tones of heather and scrub covering the plain and creeping up the 
little valleys of the bare neutral-tinted chalk downs. 

The first fortnight was wet and cold, and, beyond our regulation 
two hours’ walk in the afternoon, we stayed in and worked at “ the 
book We had brought with us ten pamphlet boxes of material, 
MS. minutes of vestries, etc. The first three days I spent struggling 
with the draft of our first chapter, rearranging each section and when 
I had rearranged it submitting it to Sidney. Then he would begin 
(I sitting by his side} to rewrite it: both of us breaking off to discuss 
or to consult our material. Indeed, this constant consultation of our 
“ specimens ” is the leading feature of our work. We 
handling our material: one of us will 
“ that is not always 
question of evidence, 
are representative of 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

gone systematically through all the ten boxes over every specimen, so 
as to be sure that we have included all the facts and accounted for all 
the similarities and divergencies between our “ specimen ” vestries. 
At last our chapter on the parish is complete, and I sent it off to be 
typewritten this afternoon. 

January 3orA, 1902. Grosvenor Road. — I have been so hard at 
work on the book that I have had no energy left over for diary writ- 
ing. . . . Then we went to Margate into lodgings taking the devoted 
Emily > with us — which made the lodgings quite homely. We worked 
well together and almost ended the difficult chapter on “ Municipal 
Corporations”. The number of times Sidney and I have laboured 
through these four volumes of the Royal Commission Report of 1834 
is tiresome even to think about, arranging and rearranging the evidence, 
and airanging our facts in endless ways so as to find coincidences and 
perhaps causes. Our conclusions from the evidence are almost too 
favourable to please us; they are hardly vraisernhlable. Since we came 
back we have either been tidying up the chapters, or I have been at 
the Guildhall working with Spencer through the minutes of the Court 
of Common Council of the City of London. 

Jpril 25/fA, 1902. Croivborough Beacon, Sussex. — A pleasant four 
weeks here, camping out in the large rooms of a girls’ school at Crow- 
borough Beacon. We have had a happy and successful time here: 
writing the chapter on the “ Commissioners of Sewers ”, sorting the 
material from structure into function (a tiresome job which will have 
occupied one or other of us for ten days). I have been thinking out 
the “ assumptions ” underlying the working out of local government 
prior to 1834. At present, I have the following principles: obligation 
of all to contribute service; desirability of common agreement; super- 
vision by superior authority, calling in the counsel of inferiors; and 
co-option and nosnination of successors by the existing governing body. 
It is clear that the principle of “ obligation ” referred to old services 
or general statutory services; and the principle of “ common agree- 
ment ” to new services or pseudo-voluntary services. I shall doubtless 
see other principles when we come to work out the functions. The 
book is getting into the interesting and philosophical stage, and I am 
looking forward with hopefulness and happiness to the ten weeks with 
the Russells. 

May \th, 1902. Friday's Hill, Femhttrst. — Settled again for our 
nine weeks’ sojourn with the Bertrand Russells. Hard at work on the 

’ Emily Wordley, for many years parlomtnaid at 41 Grosyeiior Road. (Ed,) 

172 



THE OLD POOR LAW 


Poor Law Report of 1834. I had to break into the work to help 
Sidney through with his University of London article. . . , 

June 1902. Friday's Hill . — I have worked well^ but with small 
result in actual stuff written. Of the eight weeks we have been here, 
nearly two were spent on the university article — counting exhaustion 
and proof-correcting, another two in reading through and analysing 
the whole of the Poor Law Commission evidence of 1833-4. Another 
week has been more or less spent in entertaining and resting, so that 
not more than a fortnight has been actually consumed in writing. But 
what I have done is to get the whole poor law section planned out and 
about half written, as well as the general scheme of Part II. of the 
book conceived, so that now the work will go straight forward. Sidney 
has only been able to write out (he always elucidates and completes my 
rough draft) what I have done, spending only one or two days a week 
down here. 

July 1902. Grosvenor Road . — Four fruitful weeks at Campden, 
Gloucestershire, whither we return for another three to-morrow. 
We have done good work completing our chapter on the Poor Law. 
We see now that our first work will be the history of English local 
government from the Revolution down to 1835, practically the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has been impossible to separate 
the early nineteenth from the eighteenth century, of which it was 
a mere continuation, without any deliberate change in constitution. 
Administrative inefSciency was one of the features of the eighteenth 
century, and it was only in the reform movement of 1832—5 that we 
have the first sign of a desire for efficient administration; and that only 
in the minds of “ cranks ” like Chadwick. The reactionary and the 
radical parties were alike against efficiency, the firet for corrupt and 
the second for doctrinaire reasons. Our work on local government 
will be a big indictment, not only of the eighteenth century, but also 
of the present-day local government. 

November i of//, 1 902. Grosvenor Road. — Meanwhile, we are 
hammering out our conclusions and throwing them at the head of the 
public in the form of massive historical analysis. It is a time, we think, 
for big artillery in the way of books. But hard thinking takes time. 
For a whole month I played about with propositions and arguments, 
submitting them, one after another, to Sidney, before we jointly dis- 
covered our own principles of poor law administration. And each of 
the services will have to be taken up in the same exhaustive manner ! 
How could we do it, if working together were not, in itself, delightful? 
It is a curious process this joint thinking; we throw the ball of thought 


173 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
one to the other, each one of us resting, judging, inventing in turn. 
And we are not satisfied until the conclusion satisfies completely and 
finally both minds. It is interesting too, to note that we never dis- 
cover our principles until after we have gone through the whole 
labour, not only of collecting, classifying and marshalling our facts, 
but of sitting down in front of them, until we discover some series of 
hypotheses which accounts for all the facts. This final process seems 
to me to be not at all unlike testing in a laboratory; or manipulating 
figures in the working out of a mathematical problem. It is experi- 
mentation, constantly testing the correspondence between the idea 
and the fact. I do most of this experimentation and Sidney watches and 
judges of the results, accepting some, rejecting others. It is he who 
finds the formula that best expresses our conclusions. 



January 1903. Over strand, Cromer . — The last afternoon 

here. ... A happy time: spent the first ten days sorting and pondering 
over the material on vagrancy and classifying the subject under 
“ devices Sidney, meanwhile, clearing up odds and ends of work — 
Technical Education Board, University and [School of Economics] 
business. Then we started work together, and roughed out the greater 
part of the vagrancy chapter — I lading over the fire while Sidney did 
the real work. This would take up our mornings — four hours; in the 
afternoon, thei’e would be a walk on die beach or more rarely a ride, 
and then a quiet read at 18th-century literature. Sidney must have 
devoured some fifty or sixty books: I only accomplished two or three 
together with a few novels borrowed from Lady Battersea. Half-a- 
dozen times we went in for a chat with our neighbours in their 
resplendent villa, or Lady Battei-sea came to see us. She is a good 
and true-natured woman, and quite intelligent, though like all tliese 
“ society dames ” quite incapable of anything but chit-chat — flying 
from point to point. ... 

January 1903. Grosvenor Road . — ^This year has been both happy 
and fruitful. We have got on well with the book—though the task 
grows bigger and more complicated as we toil to complete it. We find 
ourselves really writing the internal history of the eighteenth century 
—-and for this purpose I am reading eighteenth-century literature — 
trying to discover what were the good features of the time. A certain 
kind of veracity seems its leading moral quality; a perfected form in 
prose, its intellectual achievement; and I suppose certain discoveries 
as to the contents of men’s minds; appreciativeness of human motive, 
cynical, but at least open-eyed. In fiict, short-sighted and limited 
truth-seeking. As to conduct, human nature seems to have sunk pretty 
low— -at any rate in England. Selfish, self-indulgent, corrupt, and slack 


74 



AREAS OF ADMINISTRATION 


in all kinds of effort except dissipation — even cruel, at least compared 
to the present day. But what a lot of the eighteenth century survives 
in the twentieth! Progress seems to have been made chiefly by the 
lower middle-class and upper artisans. 

March and, 1903. Grosvenor Road . — I took the chair for H. G. 
Wells’s lecture on “ Areas of Administration ” at the Students’ Union. 
Like ourselves, he is impressed with the need for some scientific 
adjustment of units of administration to functions or services — the 
obvious absurdity of Newcastle and Jarrow, for instance, being 
separate units of tramway administration, instead of the whole of 
Tyneside. He suggested some ideal areas for all purposes based on the 
function of locomotion. In summing up the debate, I threw out, on 
the spur of the moment, the suggestion of sweeping away all fixed 
areas; of instituting one unit of representation; e.g. one representative 
for every 1 0,000 persons for all purposes whatsoever, and of combining 
these units with each other according to function in many different 
groups or governing bodies. Thus, the five representatives of Deptford 
would sit together for street cleansing and lighting purposes, would 
sit with the other London representatives for education, main drainage, 
and with these and those of the home counties for water, etc., etc. 
The grouping would be done by Order in Council according to the 
service and according to fixed or changing conditions with regard to 
population, industry, climate, etc. The local government through the 
country would thus be fluid, indefinitely elastic, tlie same units grouped 
in any number of ways. Each constituency would fix its eyes on the 
one man, and take precious care to get a good representative. This 
would involve a great development of statutory committees with co- 
opted members, as some of the groups would be too large in member- 
ship to admit of direct administration by the whole body. Also, it 
might be necessary in rural districts to provide for the election or 
nomination of purely subordinate administrative bodies, who would 
manage the local affairs under the supervision of a large body. G. B. S. 
was delighted with the suggestion. There may be some grain of use- 
fulness in it. 

June 1 5//), 1903. Jston Magna, Gloucestershire. — Meanwhile, our 
big work on local government grows slowly and surely; but still there 
is a good deal of ground to cover. Since we have been down here — 
sixteen days— I have mastered the whole of our notes on licensing of 
public houses by the justices, and the evidence and reports of four 
parliamentary enquiries, and we have actually written the greater part 
of the section— some twenty pages of printed matter, I suppose. It 
reads a straightforward narrative now— but oh! the mental struggle of 

. . ^75 . , 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

getting the facts disentangled and marshalled one after another! Four 
hou2's every morning have we worked either togfether oi' separately. I 
getting the scheme right and Sidney getting the details correct and 
revising my scheme. Wc have worked all the harder because we have 
been absolutely undisturbed and the weather has been bad, so that 
Sidney has worked on in the afternoon, and I have brooded over the 
chapters trudging in the rain along the dripping lanes. Some delightful 
rides we have had togetlier in the few fine days — happy hours of light- 
hearted companionship, arguing about our book or plotting our little 
plans. 

August 1903. — While I spend four whole mornings in mastering 
the contents of one little book, and rest the whole afternoon and 
evening in order to work again the next day, Sidney will get through 
some eight or ten volumes bearing on local government, or likely to 
contain out of the way references to it. . . . The continuous activity 
of his brain is marvellous: unless he is downright ill, he is never 
without a book or a pen in his hand. He says that he cannot think 
without reading or writing, and that he cannot brood; if he has nothing 
before him moj-e absoj'bing, he finds himself counting the lines or spots 
on some object. That is why when he is in a street or a bus he sees 
and reads and often remembers the advertisements. If I would let 
him, he would read through meal times. A woman who wanted a 
husband to spend hours talking to her, or listening to her chit-chat, 
would find him a trying husband. As it is, we exactly suit each other’s 
habits. Long hours of solitary brooding is what I am accustomed to, 
and without which I doubt whether I could be productive. It is restful 
for me to wander off in moor, in lanes and field, or even to sit silently 
by his side in our tent, or by the fire. I have my thoughts, and he has 
his book, and both alike go to complete and fulfil our joint task. Of 
course, it is exactly the eager effort, taken together, the discussion, 
the planning and the execution, the continuous mutual criticism of 
each othei-’s ideas and each other’s expression of these ideas — all this 
vigorous co-operation for three or four hours at a stretch — that 
makes the silent companionship possible, dVen when this last is con- 
tinued, perhaps, for three or four days at a time. Sometimes I am a 
bit irritated because at some time he will not listen to what seems t(5 
me a brilliant suggestion — dismisses it with “ that is not new ”, or 
with a slight disparaging “ hmm ”. But I generally smile at my own 
irritation, and take back any idea to clear up or elaboi-ate or correct 
with other thoughts, or to reject as worthless; sometimes I flare up 
and scold — then he is all penitence and we kiss away the misundei- 
standing. Our love gives an atmosphere of quiescent happiness (to use 
Rogers’ classification), and our work gives, us periods of I'estless or 

■■■ iih 


A GRAND COUNCIL 


energetic happiness. And when we are alone in tile country together 
there is no other thought or feeling to intrude on this peaceful activity. 
We have no incompatible desires, either together or apart; our daily 
existence and our ideal are one and the same — ^we sail straight to our 
port over a sunlit sea. But the point we make for seems sometimes an 
unconscionable way off! 

November 1903. Grosvenor Road. — Exactly a montli to-day we 
returned to London. I have worked regularly at the book, but until 
the last week my brain seemed like wool, and my daily effort was 
more painful than productive. The net result is half the chapter on 
prison administration written, and most of the material mastered — 
but Sidney has really done the better part of the work though occupied 
with other matters. 

November 1903. — Becoming obsessed with my scheme of trans- 
forming English local government, by sweeping away all areas, paying 
skilled men as representatives and adding, by co-option, residents and 
expert amateurs for different purposes. Such a body — say 600 repre- 
sentatives for England — would make a Grand Council for all England’s 
internal affairs — a similar Grand Council for Wales, Scotland and 
Ireland — breaking up into smaller units of local government according 
to function. Salaries of ;^iooo a year out of national funds. 

Perceive now that it would be desirable to have a Part III. to our 
book on theory of local government, giving an analysis of the assump- 
tions upon which the i8th century and early 19th century local 
government was based — with the rise of new assumptions. With our 
mass of facts needful to have a brilliant and dogmatic theoretical part, 
quite apart from the concrete narrative, and based on a personal creed. 
Working well. 

December 6 th, 1903. — Finished the prison chapter to-day; for the 
last six weeks have worked well and hard at it— re-written it many 
times, improving it both in form and substance — -Sidney the substance 
(which he is always adding to), I the form, which I model and remodel 
until I am satisfied with it. To-morrow I begin on another function — 
the suppression of nuisances. Meanwhile, Sidney will get out his little 
book on London Education. 

January lyth, 1904. Grosvenor Road.— Y or the last fortnight — 
ever since I returned from our short Christmas holiday — I have 
been struggling with our material on municipal regulation. We have 
now decided to issue three volumes^ — I. on Structure, and II. and III. 
on Function — the two latter consisting respectively of poor law, police 
and prisons, and municipal regulation, municipai enterprise, and 

m: N 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
municipal finance. The two first volumes are done — in the first draft — 
and we have finislied most of the separate chapters on municipal regula- 
tion, and the last chapter on the suppression of nuisances. The former 
I sketclicd and Sidney wrote out on Saturday — but I am still at work 
scheming t)ie chapter on nuisances, without as yet seeing much light. 
It took a whole week pondering, analysing and indexing the material- — 
then some days sorting out in my own mind the notions that belonged 
to a general introduction to regulation, and those belonging specifically 
to nuisances. Tins preliminary work is the hardest of all — one wanders 
fill- and wide in thought before one hits on exactly the right limits and 
right order of one’s subject-matter. And it is woi'k that one practically 
has to do alone, though directly one has got some limits and order 
satisfactoiy to oneself, Sidney’s criticism or elaboration are an immejise 
use. Indeed, I often feel that his “ finish ” is far more important than 
my preliminary framework. 

October 1 904. Grosvemr Road. — Since we returned a fortnight ago, 
I have been working for six hours a day, re-sorting the material back 
into structure — ^so that we may begin to re-write our first volume — 
and, by the way, clearing up my mind as to the arrangement of the 
subject-matter of each volume. It is hard driving work — a good deal 
is mere mechanical drudgery, but it has the advantage of a broad view 
of the whole subject-matter, structure and function, law and administra- 
tion, origins and changes in the lines of development. . . . But, in the 
main, we lead the student’s life — at least I do — the rest being taken as 
recreation in the odd times left over from the working day. 

November ith. — ^The sorting is finished — the two secretaries (Mrs. 
Spencer and Miss Crick) have completed it, working two days a week 
for the last six weeks. I, meanwhile, have superintended and helped — 
going over every page in the pamphlet boxes — and have looked up 
odds and ends of parish law in the British Museum. Now I have settled 
down to reconsider the chapter on the parish. I shall index the whole 
of the material under the four new heads of the parish and its office, 
the open vestry, the close vestry, the representative vestry, with in- 
numerable subheads for each of the four chaptere — varying the work 
with re-drafting the text of the chapter. 

November 1904. — I am analysing all our material on vestries during 
the four morning hours and reading eighteenth-century literature for 
two odd hours in the aftei-noon — ^altogether I find I can manage six 
or seven houre’ study now, as against the three or four hours of old days. 

December imd, 1904. — -Off to Felixstowe for a three weeks’ recess 
—during which time we hope to finish off the parish chapter to be re- 

178 



OMISSIONS 


typewritten. We might do indefinitely more research, but it is time to 
be getting on if we ever are to complete our whole work on .English 
local government up to the present time. Moreover, it is necessary for 
Sidney’s administrative work to ino'ease his reputation by publishing 
a big work of research. 

‘January 1905. Grosvenor Road . — Since we returned ten days ago 
from our recess at F elixstowe, I have been hard at work analysing all 
our select vestry material, and reading at the British Museum every- 
thing that bears on it — Sidney going on to poor law pamphlets with 
occasional digressions to the matter I have in hand. 

March gth, 1905. Grosvenor Road . — Begun on the material for 
the county. Sidney another two weeks’ work on the close vestry, 
annotating and completing it. . . . 

March i y^th . — Made an uncomfortable discovery this morning. In 
considering our material for our chapter on the county, I became 
aware that we have omitted to ask for and examine the presentments 
of grand juries, high constables, petty courts, etc. Also petitions from 
inhabitants and individuals. All we have looked at and abstracted are 
the oi'ders of the quarter sessions. The mistake is due to our limited 
view at the beginning of our investigation: we started out with no 
systematic survey of our sources — merely allowed these to turn up 
anyhow. It is not too late, though troublesome, to remedy it. But I 
shudder at the thought of how bad our work was three years ago. We 
ought to have known better, with Cox’s Derbyshire on our book- 
shelves, But I tend never to read a book until I actually want it, and 
Sidney does not regard discovering of sources as part of his duty. 
Damned stupid of me! 

Jpril 1905. Grosvenor Road . — ^Three or four weeks more after 
that spent either amassing new material at the British Museum for 
our chapter on the county, or in analysing our twelve boxes of material 
at home. , 

June 1905. — While we were at Aston, Sidney took the initiative 
and wrote hard at the chapter on county administration — I followed 
in his wake, supplying him, from my index, with all the instances in our 
material. But my work was mechanical. Now I have to pull the whole 
together — the county must be finished before we leave for Scotland a 
month hence. A strong sharp pull will do it. 

July 1905. — Almost finished the county— but a few more pages 
to write — ^just the tag end of our last chapter. 

179 


ENQUIRY INTO ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT 
October 1905. Grosojenor Road . — Five days’ hard grind at MS. 
records of the Bristol Corporation of the Poor, and Municipal Cor- 
poration; encouraging Mrs. Spencer with my presence and leaving her 
to finish. Now at work sorting, indexing and scheming Book IV. of 
our work: seignorial franchises and municipal corporations. Sidney, 
meanwhile, gives all his spare time preparing The Parish and the County 
for the press, but much occupied with the L.C.C. work. 

December 1905. Grosvenor Road. — Meanwhile,- the thought of the 
work on the Royal Commission on the Poor Law added to the 
pressure of finishing our book, is not altogether a happy outlook. Our 
enquiry for Book III. is not yet completed — there are many gaps in 
our knowledge which I, aided by three private secretaries, am trying 
to fill up. But one hardlydarerelaxone’sgripofthe complicated subject, 
and how I shall manage to run a public enquiry side by side of our own, 
on a different subject, for a different period, I hardly care to think. 



CHAPTER V 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON 
EDUCATION 
1899-1902 

“How can I produce the next act in Our Partnership? ” I 
ask the Other One. “ So far I have disentangled and grouped 
together all the entries in the diaries displaying our joint 
investigation into English local government. But this uses 
up a mere fraction of the diaries of 1899—1906. Here is a 
mass of entries about your participation in the daily doings 
of the London County Council; your continued work, as 
vice-chairman, on the Technical Education Board, and the 
further development of the scholarship scheme and the 
co-ordination of the various grades and kinds of educational 
institutions; the part you played in reconstructing London 
University, and, as a senator, linking it up with the poly- 
technics, on the one hand, and the secondary schools, on 
the other. More interesting to me is the record of our 
devoted nursing of that delicate infant, the London School 
of Economics; its rapid growth and admission into the 
University of London, as part of the Faculty of Economics 
and Political Science, a new faculty on which you had 
insisted. And, last but not least, there are, from 1 902 
onward, all your mancEuvres, which were certainly extensive 
and peculiar, on the London County Council, in the lobbies 
of the House of Commons, and even in the Tory press, to 
make the London County Council the supreme authority 
for the education of London citizens, whether elementary 
or secondary, secular or denominational, technical or uni- 
versity. And, all the while, as a background to our personal 
aims and- efforts, there are entries about the South African 
War, the discords within the Liberal Party, the triumphant 
endorsement of aggressive imperialism at the polls in 1900, 
the Nonconformist outcry against putting the Catholic and 
, ' 181 ■, 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
Anglican voluntary schools on the rates, the break-away of 
Chamberlain from the Conservative Government in 1903, 
and the starting of the tariff reform campaign (which inci- 
dentally deprived us of Hewins as Director of the School of 
Economics) — all this political, economic and religious fer- 
ment, ending in the outstanding triumph of the Liberal 
Party at the polls early in 1906, giving us a firmly estab- 
lished Liberal Government right up to the outbreak of the 
Great War. How can I mould this medley of events into a 
single act in the absorbing drama of Our Partnership? ” 

“ Why not have one chapter on the unification of London 
education, and another on the social and political environ- 
ment in which this unification took place? ” suggests the 
Other One. “ That sounds sensible; also it follows the 
pattern of the three chapters dated 1892-8.” Then, after a 
pause: “ It might be possible, though difficult, up to 1 901-2. 
But, when once you took to wire-pulling about the proposed 
London Education Act, our social environment changed. 
For good or for evil, we were compelled, if we wished to 
succeed, to seek out those personages who could help to 
carry out our policy. How else can we explain our associa- 
tion with Anglican bishops, other than Dr. Creighton who 
was an old friend, and even with Catholic priests? Why did 
we become intimate with Conservative Cabinet Ministers? 
And how else could we have secured Rosebery as second 
president of the School of Economics, and Lord Rothschild 
(of all persons in the world) as third president, with a hand- 
some donation of £$ 000 } Why did our dear friend Haldane 
insist on introducing us to other members of the Liberal 
League, even to the uncongenial Perks? The explanation is 
simple. It chanced that with all these personages we hap- 
pened to find, during that particular period of Our Partner- 
ship — a common purpose — the unification of education, and 
its wide extension under a directly elected authority. No: 
I am afraid I must keep all the entries together for each 
successive year in chronological order. What I think I will 
do is to split the period of 1899— 1906 into two chapters. 
The first, 1899-1902, will be concerned in the main with 
182 



LONDON EDUCATION BILL 
the unification of secondary, technological and university 
education, including scientific research, all departments 
which you happened to be administering in one way or 
another. The second chapter, 1903-5, will centre round 
your successful wire-pulling for the re -drafting of the 
London Education Bill, which proposed to make the metro- 
politan boroughs the education authority, into the London 
Education Act of 1903, which established the London 
County Council as supreme authority over all rate-supported 
or subsidised education and research throughout the metro- 
polis, To which I shall add entries from the diary recount- 
ing your patiently pursued persuasion of the Progressive 
Party during the last three years of its dominance, 1 903-6, in 
favour of working the Act whole-heartedly in the interests 
of maximum efficiency. Meanwhile, will you kindly sit down 
and write out exactly what you meant by the unification of 
London education.? ” Here is the slip he presently handed 
to me : 

What we had dimly in view from the outset, although this was only 
gradually formulated, was the desirability of bringing about, so far as 
London’s vast population was concerned, a three-fold unity of educa- 
tional activity. It seemed necessary, if any substantial progress was to 
be made, to unify the government of London education, placing all of 
it under the direction of a single elected municipal organisation. It 
was equally important to bring all grades and kinds of educational 
institutions, literary and technical, academic and professional, ele- 
mentary and secondary, university and postgraduate, into harmonious 
co-operation with one another, for what was, after all, a dominant 
purpose which they had in common. These two unities, horizontal 
and vertical, involved essentially problems and methods of administra- 
tion. A third, and some would say, a more important unification to 
effect, concerned the substance and method of education, that of com- 
bining teaching with research, “ pure ” science with applied, intellectual 
development with artistic expression, instruction with training for life. 

1899 

For the first six months after our return to England,* we 
had to separate. Whilst I settled down in one provincial town 

’ The return home from their nine months’ tour abroad. See p. 145 n. (Ed.) 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 


after another, to start our colleague, F. H. Spencer, in our 
particular methods of research, the Other One resumed his 
various administrative activities in the metropolis. This en- 
forced parting we found somewhat hard to bear. 

“ I have been horribly impressed all this week ”, writes 
the Other One during one of our longer separations, ” with 
the loneliness of life except when you are there. I can’t bear 
to think of what it would be if there were an accident to your 
train, or when you were bicycling, which left me really 
. alone. I get thoroughly nervous and depressed, and am 
miserable; unable to work, or read in the evenings, and 
wanting my colleague and companion, my helpmate and 
playmate. Fortunately, there is now little more than a week 
of it. . . .” Then again three days later; “ The apparent 
advantage of dividing our forces is delusive, as I am afraid 
my work falls off by nearly as much as the gain. I have been 
able to do nothing towards the book this evil fortnight. 
Partly this must have been the case owing to the arrears of 
other business. But partly (and I am afraid in no small 
degree), it has been due to my own failure. I have been 
strangely incapable. It has been almost a failure of will- 
power. Of course, it is not easy to be sure this is not idleness. 
But, after all, if idleness is so strong as to incapacitate, it 
does not matter what you call it. What is annoying is that 
it is a miserable state. If one is idle, one ought at any rate to 
enjoy the idleness! I am afraid, therefore, we must not count 
on being able to increase our output by working apart. I am 
sure the very opposite is the case: a much more agreeable 
prospect! ...” 

Fortunately, there were the London County Council 
recesses: ten days at Easter and at Whitsuntide, a month at 
Christmas, and more than two months in the summer. 
Settled together in lodgings or in a rented house in a suburb 
of some provincial city, we spent the week-days in investiga- 
tion and the week-ends in cycling in the neighbouring 
countryside; all of which is described in the preceding- 
chapter. With these few words of introduction, I present the 
following entries of the diary of 1899, selected in order to 
184 



faculty of economic and political science 
give a vision of our life as a whole, apart from our specialised 
tasks of research. I begin with the very first entry in the MS. 
diary for 1899. 

February <,th . — Since we returned to England I have been disinclined 
to write in my diary, having nothing to relate and having lost the 
habit of intimate confidences, impossible in a joint diary such as we 
have kept together during our journey round the world. One cannot 
run on into self-analysis, family gossip, or indiscreet and hasty descrip- 
tions of current liappenings, if someone else, however dear, is solemnly 
to read one’s chatter theti and there. I foresee the sort of kindly in- 
dulgence, or tolerant boredom, with which Sidney would decipher this 
last entry! And this feeling would, in itself, make it impossible to write 
whatever came into my head at the time of writing without thought 
of his criticism. ... 

March 'jth . — Sidney has been principally engaged in engineering 
the School of Economics into its proper place in the new University, 
bargaining alternatively with the Royal Commission to recognise it as 
a School of the University and to create a separate Faculty of Eco- 
nomics and Political Science, with the T.E.B. to endow the proposed 
Faculty with an income, and with Passmore Edwards to present a new 
building. Everything seems to be going excellently. ... 

May i$th . — Whilst I am mainly occupied in this enquiry, Sidney 
engineers the School and to a lesser extent the University. He is in the 
background of the County Council, partly because he has been so long 
awayj partly because he is considered a specialist in education. On 
educa;tional matters he leads without dispute; the T.E.B. and the 
Council doing anything that he asks them to do. He no longer evokes 
hostility: the Moderates respect him, the leading Progressives ask his 
advice, but do not regard him as a rival for the position of leadership. 
No doubt this is due to his growing disinclination to push himself 
forward for any position desired by anyone else; his refusal to take 
any steps to start a career of political advancement. His dislike of the 
personal struggle for leadership becomes, in fact, greater and greater. 
He is as energetic and persistent as ever, but his energy is perpetually 
seeking the line of least resistance for the cause he believes in— and 
the line of least resistance for his cause is the line of least advancement 
for himself. ... 

Haldane dined with us last night to talk over University affiiirs— 
especially the possibility of getting Carnegie to endow London Uni- 
versity with some of his millions. We loathe what we saw of Pittsburg 
and explained that we could not possibly approach “ the reptile but 

185 



THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
thought that others could do so who knew less or thought differently. 
John Morley for instance? So Sidney agreed to draft some kind of 
description of what might be done. Haldane was down-hearted, more 
down-hearted than I have ever seen him about the prospects of the 
Liberal Party. He tried to explain away Rosebery’s last speech^ — crying 
quits to Home Rule, Socialism, Temperance and other social reforms, 
but could not do so even to his own satisfaction. The present situation 
— all the leaders of the party on strike — is becoming ludicrous — no one 
understanding what they are striking against unless they art striking 
agaitist each other. Haldane brought a cordial invitation from Herbert 
Gladstone to Sidney to stand for Deptford, or any other London 
constituency, all expenses to be paid by the party: “ a sign not of grace, 
but of dire necessity “ They think your standing would do them 
good,” said Haldane, “but I told them”, he added in a half-bitter, 
half-playful tone, “ that, like Rosebery, you would neither come in 
tior go out.” “ Until wc know who is to be the company,” I retorted, 
“ we shall stand in the doorway and help to block the door by standing 
there.” 

Ten days in London have been dissipated by social duties. Three days 
I had to spend at Brighton with Herbert Spencer, he becoming insistent 
that I must visit him. Poor old friend: I verily believe that he thinks 
it is a treat for me to spend so many hours in his stuffy house, subsisting 
on his stingy housekeeping, so stingy that sometimes I spend no little 
time in considering whether I can manufacture an excuse to get a good 

' In a letter 21/6/99, the Other One refers to this flattering’ desire to rope him 
into the Liberal Party: 

“ Last night's dinner was curious and interesting. Lord Ttveedmouth had 40 to 
dinner, in his gorgeous house, on gorgeous plate. There were present Campbell- 
Bannerman, all the London Liberal M.P.’s except Stuart .and Burn.?, Herbert 
Gladstone, .and all the chosen Liberal candidates and probable candidates for 
London — including 24 County Councillors. I w.as given a very high place — put 
next to Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman at the main table! There was a most gorgeous 
dinner, and after it, to my surprise, and I think unexjiccted by others, Lord Tweed- 
mouth invited us all to make suggestions how to win London. In response to cries 
Dr. Collins and Dickinson spoke, and then there were cries for me. So I rose, and 
being quite unprepared rather missed my opportuKity I am .afraid. It was difficult 
to say what one should have said. But I managed very politely to express my feeling 
that the leaders would have to make it clear that they meant business on London 
questions, especially taxation of Ground Rents and water: and that I was not 
myself a candidate. This led to rather a funny result — Causton, HerlTcrt Ghadstone 
and Bannerman in speaking later, all insisted with ludicrous iteration, that I 
become a candidate. It became the ‘ note ’ of the evening, to everybody’.^ amuse- 
ment, Steadman, Dr. Napier, Laivson also spoke, saying not much. The fact is we 
■were all unprepared to speak, and of course rather hampered by our position as 
guests. I am sorry now that I did not say more ‘for their good ’, but I felt bound 
to try to be e.xtra-courteous. Of course I told Causton and H. Gladstone afterw-ards 
very decidedly that 1 quite certainly would r/o? stand — and I don’t feel in the least 
inclined to do so. But it -was evident that last night they meant to make a dead set 

186 



INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S CONGRESS 

meal out. However, on this visit tliere was no actual lack of nourish- 
ment. Two innocuous young women are in perpetual attendance — 
one a pianist, the other a housekeeper; the same secretary, half- 
secretary half-valet — three maid-servants, and a coachman — all at the 
call of the poor old man’s money. He told me that during the last years 
he has been drawing from the sales of his books, eight hundred a year 
from England, and five hundred a year from America. All his savings 
are iii the Linotype Company, in which he invested in order to break 
the trade union — an investment which yields high interest. So that 
he is more than well off considering his narrow needs. Notwithstanding 
all this mean living, there is the stamp of heroism on his daily life. At 
eighty years of age he still struggles on, in pain and depression, revising 
his biology in the firm faith that his words are the truth. 

June i8^A. — Spent Sunday with the Holts. Dear old Lallie most 
affectionate. Hers is a nature which improves with years — her char- 
acter has softened, deepened, and she has gained in intellectual interests. 
At present, iii the intervals of keeping a luxuriously comfortable house 
for a large family with many friends, she reads theology, trying to 
find a creed which combines rational thouglu with religious emotion. 
She has a strong mind, but she has neither intellectual training nor 
experience of thought, and it is pathetic to watch her struggling with 
wrinkled brow to reach conclusions which have been reached long ago 
by persons of her temperament. For the metaphysic we adopt is mainly 
a matter of temperament. She is a thorough-going puritan — pious 
but hating authority or intellectual or emotional self-subordination. 
Between her and us, there is a genuine regard; she admiring our 
persistency and strength of conviction, and we — Sidney especially — 
liking the orderliness and public spirit of the Holts. We go there again 
in September to study the Liverpool Town Council. 

July 2,rd . — Back in London in time for the International Women’s 
Congress. The American and continental women took it quite 
seriously: but the more experienced English women, whilst organising 
it admirably, mocked at it in private: the press sneered at it, and the 
public generally ignored it — always excepting the entertainments of 
the duchesses and countesses who had been drawn in to patronise the 
Congress. It was not a failure, but hardly a success. The council 
meetings were stormy and unbusinesslike (I represented New Zealand 
owing to our recent visit to that land), resolving themselves into a duel 
between Mrs. Creighton, backed up by the N.U.W.W.i set of English 
women, on the one hand, and, on the other, Mrs. Wright Sewell (an 

' National Union of Women Workers. (Not a trade union body, but a group 
of -women interested in women’s organisations. Ed.) 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

autocratic and self-assertive American), supported by Lady Aberdeen 
and the American and continental delegates. Great Britain and her 
faithful colonies were routed, which is what Mrs. Creighton desired, 
as she wished the National Council of Great Britain to withdraw from 
the International. It would have been better if the N.U.W.W. had 
refused to let itself be drawn into this adventure: it believed neither 
in Woman with a big “ W ”, nor in Internationalism with a big “ I 
it is distinctly parochial and religious — most emphatically insular. T o 
the well-bred and conventional ladies who dominate it, the “ screeching 
sisterhood ” demanding their rights represents all that is detestable. 
The public conferences were some of them informing and all of them 
decorous, and, owing to the predominance of the N.U.W.W. clique, 
the discussions were practical, even technical in character. '! took the 
chair at one of the conferences and spoke at another, and turned up 
at the council meetings to support Great Britain. But with Mary 
Playne [my sister] in the house, and friends drifting in to see me, my 
week was wasted and my strength dissipated. Americans and colonials 
turn up and claim our attention, and the completion of our enquiry 
seems far off and unattainable. 

October loth . — This past summer [I note after staying with Sister 
Plolt], so far as peisonal life is concerned, has been full of enjoyment 
of work, health and love. But it has been marred by the nightmare of 
the Dreyfus case and the Transvaal crisis. I took a feverish interest in 
the Dreyfus trial — Sidney grew impatient and would not read it, but 
to me it had a horrible fascination — ^became a morbid background to 
my conscious activities. Equally unsavoury have been the doings of our 
own people in the Transvaal — -an underbred business, from the Jameson 
Raid to the South African Committee' of Enquiry, from the hushing 
up of the Enquiry and the whitewashing of Rhodes, to the flashy 
despatches of Milner, and the vulgarly provocative talk of Chamberlain 
resulting in war with the Transvaal Republic, that remnant of 
seventeenth-century puritanism. 

October 20th . — Haldane spent an hour or so with us this evening. 
Significant is the transformation in his attitude from a discreet up- 
holder of Liberal solidarity to that of a rebel against the views of the 
majority, determined to assert himself. “ The Liberal Party is com- 
pletely smashed, Mrs. Webb ”, and he beamed defiance. He had spent 
a month reading Transvaal blue-books and was convinced that Milner 
was right, and that war was from the first inevitable. The cleavage goes 
right through the Liberal Party into the Fabian Society, Shaw, Wallas 
and Whelen being almost in favour of the war, J. R. MacDonald and 
Sydney Olivier desperately against it, while Sidney occupies a middle 
T88 


THE SHAWS 


position — thinks that better management might have prevented it, but 
that now that it has begun recrimination is useless, and that we must 
face the fact that hejiceforth the Transvaal and the Orange Free State 
must be within the British Empire. 

Sidney lecturing at Oxford: I stayed here for my usual Wednesday 
afternoon at home. This is rapidly becoming a series of interviews 
with members of my class at the School of Economics. I enjoy lecturing 
every Thursday; the preparation of my lecture takes the best part of 
two mornings either in actual preparation or in resting so that my 
brain may be clear. The weekly class brings me into close connection 
with the work of the School ; I see some half-dozen students every week 
and talk over their work with them. I am glad that our life becomes 
every day more that of students and teachers, our intercourse with 
general society shrinking up to occasional meetings with casual acquaint- 
ances. I sometimes long for more physical enjoyment, bright exercise 
and the still beauty of the countryside: for leisure as distinguished from 
the inertia of exhaustion. Indeed, when we are both a little weary we 
talk of the time when we shall be free to retire to the country and plan 
an ideal cottage with a large library, with lounges and room for endless 
book shelves, with a couple of spare bedrooms, and an open sunny 
verandah. Silence, beauty and physical exercise seem to me the 
supreme luxury; the mental superlatives we have already — mutual love 
and keen intellectual interest. 

The Shaws have taken up their residence in Charlotte’s attractive 
flat over the School of Economics, and Sidney and I meet there on 
Thursdays to dine sumptuously between our respective lectures. 
Charlotte and Shaw have settled down into the most devoted married 
couple, she gentle and refined, with happiness added thereto, and he 
showing no sign of breaking loose from her dominion. What the 
intellectual product of the marriage will be, I do not feel so sure: at 
any rate he will not become a dilettante, the habit of work is too deeply 
engrained. It is interesting to watch his fitful struggles out of the 
social complaisancy natural to an environment of charm and plenty. 
How can atmosphere be nesisted? 

December . — ^John Burns dined here last night. He is mellowed in 
temperament, he has lost his restless egotism and personal hatreds, and 
something of his force: lost his emphatic faith and his fierce sympathies 
with suffering. Of course, he will go on being “ progressive ”, and will 
back up anything that can be put into an Act of Parliament. But, like 
most untrained enthusiasts, experience of affairs has unhinged his faith 
and dulled his enthusiasm. All the common or garden objections to 
specific reforms, which were the trite commonplaces of one’s child- 
hood, which one learnt to discount, realising the prejudices from which 
189 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
they sprang, seem brand-new truths to him. His special bugbear to-day 
is tlie pressure exercised on representatives by municipal and state 
employees to improve the conditions of their employment at the cost 
of the community (he having in his constituency some 3000 persons 
drawing maintenance from rates and taxes). These men and women 
might retort that John Burns, L.C.C., M.P., had become accustomed 
to postmen earning i8s. a week and denied the right of collective 
bargaining. His past utterances as a Labour leader — as a strike leader — 
hamper him in his reaction: it is assumed that he must necessarily be 
always on the side of the wage-earners, whatever their claims may be, 
and however fierce their resentment. When he insists on his freedom 
to judge the rightness and expediency of any demand he is denounced 
as a renegade. Certainly, there is no such pressure on Sidney. I do not 
think there is any danger of undue pressure. If public servants were to 
press for bettei' conditions than were enjoyed by the majority of the 
voters, it would bring about its own reaction. These doubts and 
difficulties are fast paralysing Burns as a progressive leader. 

December 1 899. — Massingham, Vaughan Nash and Harold Spender 
have been dismissed from the Daily Chronicle', W. P. Reeves is out of 
spirits; and, generally. Liberals of all types are depressed and uncertain 
of themselves. The dismissal of Massingham from the editorship, and 
of the others from the staff, of the DaUy Chronicle reflects the strong, 
patriotic sentiment of its readers; any criticism of the war at present 
is hopelessly unpopular. 'Fhe cleavage of opinion about the war 
separates persons liitherto united and unites those who by tempera- 
ment and training have hitherto been divorced. No one knows who is 
friend and who is enemy. Sidney does not take either side and is, there- 
fore, suspected by both. He is against tlie policy that led to the war, 
but that issue being past he believes in a policy of thorough in dealing 
with the Boers. And who can fail to be depressed at the hatred of 
England on the Continent; it is comforting and easy to put it down to 
envy and malice, but not convincing. To those who, like Massingham, 
Leonard Hobhouse and Frederic Harrison believe the indictment of 
British policy to be justified, the times locfk black, and the fact that 
those with whom they are accustomed to agree regard them as suffering 
from hysteria does not improve their temper. To my mind, given the 
fact that the Boers were fully armed, confident in their strength, and 
convinced of our weakness, war was inevitable. Whether this condition 
ol affairs was in itself inevitable, or whether it was brought about by 
the impossible combination in British policy of Gladstonian sentimental 
Christianity with the blackguardism of Rhodes and Jameson, is another 
matter. But I doubt whether the partisanship of Milner, and the bad 
manners of Chamberlain, have had much to do with it. Chamberlain 


SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 


has injured himself with the thinking men of all parties by his lack 
of kindliness, courtesy and discretion, but he is still the “ strong man ” 
of politics: and the political “ pit ” of men from the street likes the 
strong man and has no desire that he should mend his manners. 
Besides, he has convictions and he expresses them honestly and 
forcibly — qualities at present rare in the political world. I should 
gather from the growing irritability of his speeches that his splendid 
physique is giving way. 

1900 

Kruger’s ultimatum of the nth October 1899, which 
demanded the withdrawal of British troops from any 
proximity to the frontiers of the two Boer Republics, pro- 
duced immediately a state of war, beginning with an 
unexpected invasion of the Cape Colony by the Boer forces. 
British feeling was further embittered by the manifest 
pleasure of France and Holland, and by the even more 
humiliating episode of patronising advice from the German 
Emperor as to how we should conduct the campaign. Hence 
the year 1900 found British public opinion tense and 
angry, making even social intercourse difficult. The Con- 
servative Party was solidly behind the determination of 
Chamberlain and Milner to “ beat the Boers ” and extend 
the British Empire. The Liberal Party, already enfeebled by 
a series of quarrels among rival leaders, was shattered by a 
definite split into three fiercely warring groups. The “Liberal 
Imperialists ”, organised in the Liberal League under Lord 
Rosebery, and including Haldane, Asquith and Sir Edward 
Grey, gave full support to the Conservative Government in 
waging the war. A mixed group of distinguished individuals 
— the so-called pro-Boerrs — drawn equally from the I^iberal 
Unionists and the Liberals — under the leadership of my 
brother-in-law Leonard Courtney, and enlisting many non- 
political intellectuals, upheld the right of the Boer Republics 
to complete independence, and denounced the policy and 
action of the Conservative Government as wicked aggres-' 
sion. An intermediate position was held by the newly chosen 
leader of the Liberal Party, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman; 
supported by Sir William Harcourt and the central body of 

191 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
the Liberal Party’ he found himself unable to deny the 
necessity of the war, but dissented alike from the policy 
which had led up to it, and from the objects and methods 
by which it was being pursued. 

Looking back on this long and bitter controversy, and 
consulting the speeches and memoirs of the leading per- 
sonages in all three camps, I am struck with an extra- 
ordinary omission, which seems to have passed unnoticed at 
the time. Amid all the angry argument as to whether the 
territories of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State 
should be governed by the resident Boer farmers or by the 
legislative assemblies at Capetown and Westminster; and 
as to whether or not the Boer farmers had an indefeasible 
moral right to independent sovereignty, or the Johannesburg 
[Uitlander] citizens a fundamental right to a vote, no one in 
Great Britain or South Africa seems to have remembered that 
these various claimants to power, whether Boer or British, 
agriculturist or gold-miner, were only a minority, a million 
or so strong, amid a vast majority of Kaffirs, five or six 
millions in number, amid whom this variegated white 
minority had intruded itself. With one exception, presently 
to be recorded, not one of the contending factions in Britain 
or South Africa- — not one of the outstanding persons in the 
controversy — ever mentioned the claim of the native popu- 
lation whose conditions of life were at stake, even to be con- 
sidered in the matter, let alone to be admitted to the govern- 
ment, or even to be given a vote, in the vast territories in 
which they had been living for generations. 

How did the little group of Fabians react to this heated 
controversy.'’ “ The majority of the Society ”, we are told by 
its historian and former general secretary, Edward Pease, 
“ recognised that the British Empire had to win the war, 
and that no other conclusion to it was possible.” But a con- 
siderable minority, including two members of the executive, 
J. R. MacDonald and J. F. Green, and George Barnes and 
Peter Curran, future Labour M.P.’s, together with Walter 
Crane, H. S. Salt, Mrs.: MacDonald and Mrs. Pankhurst, 
were fervent pro-Boers. Hence, in December 1899, a special 
192 


THE BOER TREK 


meeting of the members was called at which S. G. Hobson 
submitted a resolution — “ That the Society should dis- 
sociate itself from the imperialism of capitalism and vain- 
glorious nationalism and condemn the war”: the result 
being that the previous question was carried by a bare 
majority of 59 to 50. This inconclusive result reflected, we 
are told, “ a great diversity of opinion in the Society, and the 
executive committee, for the first, and so far the only time, 
availed itself of the rule which authorised it to submit any 
question to a postal referendum of all the members As 
there was never any question of the Society issuing a pro- 
nouncement in favour of the war, the resolution submitted 
in February 1900, with arguments for and against, was: 
‘ ‘ Are you in favour of an official pronouncement being made 
now by the Fabian Society on imperialism in relation to 
war? ” The membership at that time was about 800, of whom 
50 lived abroad, and in all only 476 votes were cast, 217 in 
favour of a pronouncement and 259 against. Whereupon, 
as stated above, the MacDonalds and thirteen other membei-s 
resigned from the Society.' 

This, however, did not settle the matter. Within a few 
months of the secession which was jestingly referred to as 
“ the Boer trek ”, it became apparent that a general election 
in Great Britain would be forced by the Government. The 
Society would necessarily have to take a hand in a contest 
in which not the Boer War alone, but the whole policy of 
Joseph Chamberlain’s imperialism, would be the dominant 
issue. The executive committee accordingly deputed a small 
committee to prepare the necessary election manifesto, and 
persuaded Bernard Sh’aw to act as draftsman. What, after 
prolonged discussion, he supplied, with incomparable skill, 
was a pamphlet of 100 pages, which brought out the Fabian 
position, but also did justice to the various valid criticisms 
and necessary qualifications expressed by all the most 
fanatical partisans of the Boers, on the one hand, and the 
patriots, on the other. The draft was again submitted to a 
full meeting of members, at which all sorts of criticisms 

I The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward Pease, pp. 128*30. 

193 o 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
were made and diligently noted by the draftsman, the meet- 
ing ending by adopting the statement by acclamation. The 
resulting pamphlet, published at one shilling as Fabianism 
and the Empire, was naturally ignored by the party news- 
papers and the rival parliamentary candidates. But it had 
its educational effect on those whom it reached, and it 
reads to-day, as, perhaps, the most prescient and permanently 
instructive public document of its date, notably as regards 
the relative rights and duties of the white and the coloured 
citizens of the Empire. 

To this introduction I may add a domestic detail. My 
eight brothers-in-law, all of them more or less political- 
minded, represented every grade of opinion in favour of and 
against the war, from die-hard Tory imperialists to stubborn 
pro-Boers; we two sitting comfortably in the middle, speak- 
ing soothing words to each and all — an agreeable circum- 
stance which tended to make our little house in Grosvenor 
Road, for the first time, a common centre for my sisters and 
their children. 

Torquay, January list . — The last six months, and especially the 
last month at Plymouth, have been darkened by the nightmare of war. 
The horrible consciousness that we have, as a nation, shown ourselves 
to be unscrupulous in methods, vulgar in manners as well as inefficient, 
is an unpleasant background to one’s personal life — a background 
always present, when one wakes in the night and in the intervals of 
leisure during the day. The Boers are, man for man, our superiors in 
dignity, devotion and capacity— yes, in capacity. That, to a ruling race, 
is the hardest hit of all. It may be that war was inevitable: I am 
inclined to think it was; but that it should come about through muddy 
intrigues and capitalist pressure and that yve should have proved so 
incapable alike in statesmanship and in generalship is humiliating. I 
sometimes wonder whether we could take a beating aitd be the better 
for it? This would be the real test of the heart and intellect of the 
British race: much more so than if we succeed after a long and costly 
conflict. If we win, we shall soon forget the lessons of the war. Once 
again we shall have “ muddled through ’’. Pecuniary self-interest will 
be again rehabilitated as an Empire-building principle. Once again the 
English gentleman, with his so-called habit of command, will have 
proved to be tire equal of the foreign expert with his scientific know- 
ledge. Once again our politicians and staff officer will bask in the 

194 



LONDON SOCIETY 


smiles of London “ society and will chatter bad metaphysics and 
worse economics in country house parties, imagining themselves to be 
men of the world because they have neither the knowledge nor the 
industry to be professional administrators and skilled soldiers. 

To us public affairs seem gloomy; the middle-classes are materialistic, 
and the working-class stupid, and in large sections sottish, with no 
interest except in racing odds, whilst the Government of the country 
is firmly in the hands of little cliques of landlords and great capitalists, 
and their hangers-on. The social enthusiasm that inspired the intel- 
lectual proletariat of ten years ago has died down and given place to a 
wave of scepticism about the desirability, or possibility, of any sub- 
stantial change in society as we know it. There may be the beginnings 
of intellectual curiosity, but it is still a flicker and not a flame. And, 
meanwhile, the rich are rolling in wealth and every class, except the 
sweated worker, has more than its accustomed livelihood. Pleasure and 
ease are desired by all men and women : science, literature and art, even 
social ambition and party politics, have given way to the love of mental 
excitement and physical enjoyment. If we found ourselves faced with 
real disaster, should we as a nation have the nerve and persistency to 
stand up against it? That is .the question that haunts me. 

February loth, — Meanwhile, our little schemes with regard to the 
new University of London prosper. We have got the School recognised 
as a Faculty of Economics, we have secured a site and a building, free 
of cost, and an income of >^2500 devoted to economics and commercial 
science. Sidney will be a member of the Faculty and will probably 
represent the County Council on the Senate. Best of all he has per- 
suaded the Royal Commission to recognise economics as a science and 
not merely as a subject in the Arts Faculty. The preliminary studies 
for the economics degree will, therefore, be mathematics and biology. 
This divorce of economics from metaphysics and shoddy history is a 
great gain. We have always claimed that the study of the structure 
and function of Society was as much a science as the study of any other 
form of life, and ought to be pursued by the scientific methods used 
in other organic sciences*. Hypothesis ought to be used, not as the 
unquestioned premiss from which to deduce an unquestioned con- 
clusion, but as an order of thought to be verified by observation and 
experiment. Such history as will be taught at the School will be die 
history of social institutions discovered from documents, statistics and 
the observation of the actual structure and working of living organisa- 
tions. This attainment of our aim — the starting of the School as a 
department of science — is the result of a chapter of fortunate accidents. 
There was the windfall of the Hutchinson Trust, then the selection 
of Hewins as director, the grant from the T.E.B. towards com- 

195 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
mercial education, the coming of Creighton to London as Bishop, and 
the successful packing of the University of London Commission. Then 
again we are humble folk whom nobody suspects of power; and Sidney’s 
opinions on educational matters are considered moderate and sound as 
neither anti- nor pro-ecclesiastic. And we have had two very good 
friends helping us — Haldane and the Bishop of London, both of them 
trusting us completely in our own range of subjects. Of course, the 
School is at present extremely imperfect: its reputation is better than 
its performance. But we have no illusions, and we see clearly what we 
intend the School to become and we are convinced that the science will 
emerge, 

* February xyyd. — Beatrice Chamberlain came to lunch on Wednes- 

day, ostensibly to tell me about poor Clara Ryland,' but really to find 
out what we felt about the Transvaal. She was as vigorous and attractive 
as is her wont, a fine generous nature, reflecting the best side of her 
father. Her tone about the Transvaal was far more moderate and 
magnanimous than I expected — not nearly so partisan as some of my 
sisters. Against Steyn of the Free State she was distinctly venomous 
and she was deprecatory of Schreiner and the Cape Government. 
“ They have been deplorably weak, they have run from one side to 
the other, imploring each alternately to climb down. And, though 
Schreiner eventually slipped down on our side, he did so not out of 
loyalty but merely to save himself.” All this I disputed with some 
warmth. When her carriage was announced, I noticed a look of nervous 
dissatisfaction on her face and she went to put on her veil, I following. 
With an effort she broke out: “ You will congratulate Papa on having 
smashed his detractors last night? ” 2 “ We have never attached much 
importance to die telegram,” I answered affectionately. “ What other 
people say Mr. Chamberlain said is not evidence,” I added. Her face 
brightened and she said something about misunderstandings of con- 
versations when two persons were referring to different things — from 
which I gather that we are right in assuming that the telegrams are 
similar in character to those already published. If only Chamberlain 

1 Clara Ryland, youngest sister of Joseph Chamberlain. She had recently lost 
her husband. (Ed.) 

2 On February 20, D. H. Thomas- (afterwards Lord Rhondda) moved in the 
House for a “ full enquiry to be made into the origin and circumstances ... of 
the incursion into the South African RepubEc of an armed force in 1895 To old 
arguments about the whitewashing of Rhodes and “ missing telegrams the anti- 
war party added references to these documents stolen by a clerk from Bourchier 
Hawksley’s office. Chamberlain’s reply was volcanic. “ It was a splendid exhibition 
of parliamentary genius", reported the old S/. yames' Gazette, “and cannot fail to 
enhance even Mr, Chamberlain’s reputation ’’; while the Dai/y Chronicle, which 
loved him not, described the speech as “ a brilliant rhetorical feat, however much or 
little it answered the point of the indictment ’’. See Life of Joseph Chamberlain, 
J. L. Garvin, vol. iii. pp. yyo-jy. (Ed.) 

196 


HERBERT SPENCER 


had not whitewashed Rhodes! Though I am inclined to believe that 
his defence of Rhodes sprang from a defiant loyalty to a man in whose 
devotion to the Empire he has complete confidence, this explanation 
is not quite convincing. 

March 2>ih. — A week with Herbert Spencer at Brighton. Com- 
bined a visit to him with some days’ work at vestry and municipal 
records. The old man is better and more benign than I have seen him 
for years. But, about the world in general and England in particular, 
he is terribly pessimistic. “ Headingstraight towards military despotism : 
the people will get what they deserve. I remember ”, he continued, 
“ being angry many years ago with an Irishman for saying that the 
English were a stupid race. I should not be angry now, I should only 
add that they are brutal as well as stupid.” He still retains his personal 
affection for me — more out of habit, I think, for every year he becomes 
more suspicious of our aims and of our power of reaching these aims. 
His housekeeping has become quite comfortable; two bright young 
persons as housekeeper and pianist respectively, three maids, a house- 
boy, coachman and a secretary, all dancing attendance on the old man. 
His secretary has not had a holiday for ten years and his two young 
ladies are kept close at it all day and every clay, “ making a pleasant 
circle for me ”, he calls it. He is despotic — humanely despotic, anxious 
for their health and for his view of what ought to be their pleasures. 
But he is intensely suspicious that he is being done by his housekeeper 
or his servants, and certain that he is chronically cheated by his trades- 
men. “ Interests, interests, interests, that is what dominates the world: 
if you are to get your rights, you must be perpetually distrusting every 
one. And it is your duty to exact your rights ”, he added with a snarl. 
Poor old man, it is pathetic to see a nature so transparently sincere, so 
eager to attain truth, warped by long-continued flattery and subordina- 
tion of others to his whims and fancies into the character of a complete 
egotist, pedantic and narrow-minded — z. true Casaubon. 

March i6th. — Utterly,done up witli a week of dissipation. The day 
I came back I dined with Alfred [Cripps] at the House of Commons 
in a private room without ventilation — 2 . veritable hole of Calcutta. 
Margaret Hobhouse had to leave, finding it unbearable. I struggled on, 
chatting with Carson, a clever, cynical and superficial Irishman — an 
ultra Tory on all questions. “ Gerald Balfour, the worst Irish Secretary 
we have had; he and his brother have done more to make Home Rule 
possible than all the preceding governments put together. When he 
leaves, he will leave all parties united clamouring for Home Rule by 
making it clear that it is not worth while being loyal ”, was his emphatic 
summing-up of the situation. It was not surprising to me that Carson 


197 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
thought that John Morley had been an admirable Secretary: “ In all 
his administration he followed the advice of the Unionists On 
Friday, we had a little dinner of friends here: on Sunday, we supped 
with Willie Cripps: on Monday, I debated in the Chelsea Town Hall 
with an anti-regulationist; on Tuesday, we had to dine with us the 
Creightons and Professor Ramsay to talk London University, and on 
Wednesday, we dined with Haldane to meet a select party of Rose- 
berites including the great man himself. Haldane sat me down next 
Lord Rosebery against the will of the latter who tried his best to avoid 
me as a neighbour, but all to no purpose, Haldane insisting on his 
changing places. He is a strange being, self-conscious and sensitive to 
a more extreme degree than any mortal that I have ever come across. 
Notwithstanding this absurd self-consciousness, he has a peculiar 
personal charm, the secret, I imagine, of his hold on a section of the 
Liberal Party and of the public. At first he avoided speaking to me. 
But, feeling that our host would be mortified if his little scheme failed 
utterly, I laid myself out to be pleasant to my neighbour, though he 
aggravated and annoyed me by his ridiculous airs: he might be a great 
statesman, a Royal Prince, a beautiful woman and an artistic star, all 
rolled into one. “ Edward,” called out Lord Rosebery to Sir Edward 
Grey as the latter, arrayed in Court dress, hurried away to the Speaker’s 
party, “ don’t tell the world of this new intrigue of Haldane’s.” And I 
believe Lord Rosebery winked as he glanced at me sitting by him. 
Which showed that he has at least a sense of humour. For the party 
was an intrigue of Haldane’s — an attempt to piece together an anti- 
little-England combination out of the most miscellaneous morsels of 
political influence. “ I feel deeply honoured at the place you gave me, 
Mr. Haldane,” said I, as he saw me out of his luxurious fiat, “ but, 
if I were four-and-twenty hours in the same house with that man, I 
should be rude to him.” Haldane is now amusing himself by weaving, 
from his gossiping imagination, a Rosebery-Webb myth. 

Consequent on all this dissipation no work at the book and a feeling 
of disconsolate blankness when I look at our accumulating material. 
My brain is all wool, and my thoughts are vvoolgathering. 

July — A month in London entertaining, especially seeing 
sisters, and snatching from tire waste of energy two or three mornings 
at the British Museum over local newspapers. Longing to get back to 
quiet days of absorption in our subject. Sidney struggling on, engineer- 
ing die School, its site, its buildings, its income and its status as a 
university institution. Breakfast 8, sharp: reading together at British 
Museum.from 9.15 to 1 o’clock: then back to lunch and he. off to 
his committees, I to waste my time — always someone to lunch or to 
dinner, or dining out or calling — some distraction taking one’s thoughts 

198 


LEONARD COURTNEY 

from profitable brooding over local government. For our present work 
— pushing the School, and our enquiry into local government — some 
social connections are needful. The same old problem, how much 
sacrifice of personal efficiency to personal influence? In England, all 
power to establish new undertakings rests on your influence over the 
various ruling cliques. The more cliques you are in touch with the 
easier it is to lay broad foundations. On the other hand, your power 
for good depends, in the long run, on the quality of your special 
product; and this last depends on whole-hearted devotion to your 
subject. The sort of compromise I make is to take the summer weeks 
in London as my holiday, and to turn the times that would be holidays 
into periods of sustained research. But we both look forward to the 
time when long months in the country will give us at once time for 
work and delightful recreation. 

We have seen much of the Leonard Courtneys this spring. Leonard’s 
determined support of the Boers’ plea for independenccj even more 
his denuhciation of the war, has alienated him from both political 
parties. The Tories regard him as a wholly unendurable person; the 
vast majority of Liberals consider him to be a quixotic crank; even 
the tiny group of pro-Boer Radicals think that his speeches and mani- 
festoes are often out of season. It is only among the I.L.P. and S.D.F, 
working-men that he finds enthusiastic followers in his anti-Govern- 
ment crusade. A strange turn in the wheel of political popularity! He 
is too absorbed in the consciousness of a great wrong done, too fervently 
convinced that there is only one way out of the tragedy, to care much 
for his own political career. What hurt him most, oddly enough, is the 
social boycott: Leonard has always enjoyed the leisurely society of 
persons of culture and position, and to-day he and Kate find them- 
selves without the accustomed invitations.* The disinterestedness and 
robustness of his convictions has impressed some of the elect; but a 
cynical public has been annoyed and irritated by his tone of moral 
indignation and his assumption of moral superiority. He has flung in 

‘ Leonard Courtney was retiirned for Liskeard at a by-election of 1877 and held 
the seat until the 1 900 election, when he retired from the candidature owing to the 
refusal of both parties, Conservative and Liberal, to support him. “ When Courtney 
was elected”, wrote Justin M’Carthy, “ I remember having a talk with an ex- 
perienced Member of the House, who set himself up as an authority on all political 
questions. ‘ Mark my words,’ he said to me with an air of portentous wisdom, ‘ he 
will be a dead failure in the House of Commons.’ I did mark his words, and 
Courtney was not a dead failure, but a very live success.” {Reminiscences, ii. p. 369.) 

“ We are completely and entirely out of it ”, wrote Kate Courtney in her diary, 
September 24, 1900: “ my great man is in splendid isolation. To Ripon to stay 
at Studley Royal. We were met by tele^ams, and telegrams continued for the two 
days we were there, mostly from various hopeless constituencies, suggesting he 
should stand. Two requests for a speech from Exeter and Battersea, which we 
acceded to after some hesitation.” 


199 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
the face of a nominally Christian, but really unbelieving world, 
Kruger’s faith in God; and the majority of good citizens have resented 
it because they have not dared to answer back what they think, that 
such a faith in God unfits a man to be the ruler of an independent 
state. This very morning Kate produced from a blue-book a nobly 
felt and finely expressed letter from Kruger to an Englishman in 
January 1 900, tense with religious fervour. “ Kruger really believes 
in God, and God’s government of this world ”, I cheerfully admitted, 
a sentiment accepted by Kate as granting the whole case for the 
Boers. “ Which proves to me ”, I added sadly, “ that he is an impossible 
person for the rest of this wicked world to treat with.” Kate looked 
shocked, and almost asked me to leave the house on the spot. Dear 
Kate is an incurable sentimentalist and has no sense of humour: she 
gives happiness and increased self-assurance to Leonard; but she 
aggravates his one big fault — his inveterate mental habit of think- 
ing everyone who disagrees with him immoral and unenlightened. 
All the same, there are few moruls for whom I have so continuous an 
affection and respect as I have for Leonard Courtney and his loving 
satellite. 

Political parties become daily more chaotic. The Tories are, as a 
party, complete cynics bound together by a rampant imperialism, 
alternately protecting vested interests and appealing to demagogic 
passions they do not themselves share. But, at any rate, they understand 
the game of “ follow the leader The great Liberal Party — “ the 
engine of progress ” — has lost its old faith and has no notion in which 
direction progress lies. The rank and file mete out contempt impartially 
to all their titular leaders. Captain Lambton, for instance, who believes 
neither in Home Rule nor Local Veto, still less in Disestablishment, 
and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Government’s South African 
policy, is standing as Liberal candidate for Newcastle — John Morley’s 
old constituency. Meanwhile, Leonard Courtney and John Morley 
are acclaimed as the only honest politicians by the recognised Labour 
leaders, who have one and all gone pro-Boer. The Fabian Society, it 
must be admitted, is completely out of it, the majority believing in the 
inevitability of the war, whilst the minority regard the majority as 
being the worst kind of traitors. 

itemher . — On our way down to-day [from local government in- 
vestigation up North] we found Haldane at Newcastle and travelled 
with him to York. He was full of political talk. “ Not a single issue is 
being discussed at this election that will be remembered two years 
hence ’ , was his summing-up of the situation. For the last four months 
he has spent all his time, left over from his income-earning at the Bar, 
on building up the Liberal Imperialist Party. He obstinately maintains 


LIBERAL PARTY SPLIT 


that no frontal attack on social and industrial evils is possible for the 
Liberal Party: they must gain the confidence of the electors on foreign 
policy and any social reform must come by “ turning movements 
The Tory majority, he thinks, will be diminished; and the present 
Government will not last more than two or three years more. Balfour 
is tired of it, Chamberlain is the only strong man and he is universally 
distrusted as supreme ruler. “ This Government is rotten: no young 
shoots and much dead wood. Moreover, it is tainted with jobbery and 
corrupt conti'acting: the Birmingham ring has made money out of the 
war: though little is said, the electors don’t like it. It is only the 
emergency of the Transvaal settlement, and the uncertainty as to who 
and what the Liberal leaders are, that will make tlie elector continue 
the Tories in office.” He intimated that the Liberals would reform 
after the election, with Rosebery as leader, Asquith as first lieutenant, 
and Perks as organiser. “ Then money will flow in and everyone who 
dreams of a peerage or a baronetcy will send in his cheque ”, added 
Haldane with a cynical shrug. 

October yth. — Haldane’s anticipation of a diminished Government 
majority seems hardly likely to be fulfilled. The Liberal Party divided 
against itself, uncertain as to its policy, is being badly routed at the 
polls. The “ strong man ” of the Government has played it down low 
to the “ man in the street the “street” has answered back with 
emphatic approval. And, in doing so, the electors have shown common 
sense. Who could ti'ust a party with a lay figure as ostensible leader, 
and as the real leaders of its sections men who hate each other, and 
each other’s ideas, more than they do the persons or the views of the 
enemy. And there seems little hope for the Liberals in the near future. 
To win back the large towns they have to give up Home Rule, Local 
Veto, and Disestablishmeitt; they have to become imperialists and 
develop some kind of social programme. In giving up the old politics, 
they alienate the Celtic fringes, and all the provincial Liberal poli- 
ticians: in imperialism, they cannot outbid the Tories: in all social 
questions, they lack knowledge or conviction and fear to lose their 
remaining rich men. So they will fall back on the Rosebery plan of 
“ no policy ”, hoping that they may be accepted as the only alternative 
to the Government gone stale. That may cause the adhesion, one by 
one, of men (mostly of the upper and middle classes) who are personally 
offended with the Government: or who belong to interests that are 
threatened by the expenditure and innovation of Tory democracy. 
But it will not bring back to their ranks the great mass of town workers 
who want some strong lead: something blatant and positive in return 
for their votes. 

Meanwhile, we go on, little concerned with the stress and storms of 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
politics. Now and again we have a qualm lest the huge Conservative 
majorities in London constituencies may mean a Moderate victory in 
L.C.C. elections in March. Otherwise a Conservative Government 
is as good for us as a Liberal Government, presided over by such men 
as Sir Henry Fowler. We realise every day more strongly, that we can 
never hope to get hold of the “ man in the street we are “ too 
damned intellectual ", as a shrewd journalist remarked. All we can 
hope to do is to find out for ourselves the actual facts and embody 
them in a more or less scientific form, and to trust to other people to 
get this knowledge translated into popular proposals. What is more 
probable is tlie silent use of this knowledge in the unperceived trans- 
formations of law and government by men and women of goodwill. 
Our business is to be friendly to men of all parties — to try to be 
charitable and unassuming, and to go on with our own work per- 
sistently and loyally. Sidney, in his administrative work, has consider- 
able power to build up London secondary and univereity education on 
the lines he believes in; with the London School of Economics we 
have, in our own hands, the forming of the economic and political 
science teaching of the new university, and through the new faculty 
the gradual establishment of a new science and a new art. That, with 
our own research work, ought to be sufficient for our faculties, indeed, 
it may prove to be beyond them! 

November , — One sad result of this election is the exclusion of 
Leonard Courtney from Parliament. He and Kate have fought 
.splendidly for the cause diey believe in, and though they accept the 
fact that the country is dead against them — they have accepted it with 
quite magnificent cheerfulness. And yet to Leonard it means probably 
an end to his career, the loss of an occupation which gave him public 
influence, agreeable society, and which minimised the results of his 
loss of sight. Fortunately for him, he has a devoted and sympathetic 
wife who lives for him and for his ideas, shares every feeling and every 
thought, and whose faith in his essential greatness is only increased by 
the world’s neglect! And he has the staying power of strongly religious 
feeling, and a firm faith (though its particular form I have never been 
able to discover) enabling him to dismiss questions of personal gain as 
irrelevant alike in thought and action. If Leonard had been endowed 
with more intellectual humility and sympathy, with more desire for 
work, lie might have become a great power for good. As it is, he has 
been “ a voice crying in the wilderness ”, ennobling and stimulating 
those who have cltanced to hear and understand him. 

December <)th . — A delightful Sunday with the Bertrand Russells 
and Haldane — talking philosophy, university organisation and politics. 


202 


FABIANISM AND THE EMPIRE 

Haldane still devotedly attached to Rosebery: trying hard to make 
friends for him even among such humble folk as ourselves and the 
Russells. And we used our opportunity to press for the adoption of 
this policy of a national minimum of health, education and efficiency, 
leaving free play to the competition between private enterprise and 
public administration above that minimum. “ Rosebery has his back 
to the wall and will not be forced into a premature declaration of 
policy: all he is pledged to, is that there shall be no tampering with the 
Empire.” But we are to meet Rosebery again: apparently, the great 
man is an admirer of Fabianism and the Empire and has sent various 
gracious messages to Shaw. 

December . — Our autumn has been dissipated with odds and ends. 
Sidney has been absorbed in his administrative work. London Uni- 
versity proves to be the most formidable addition to the L.C.C. and 
Technical Education Board. The Senate of 50 more or less dis- 
tinguished folk, many unknown to each other, and drawn from all 
sections of society, without procedure and with extraordinarily in- 
competent officers inherited from the old “ examining board ”, is the 
most difficult body to get into working order. The Chancellor, Vice- 
Chancellor and Registrar are simple obstructionists, and represent 
respectively apathy, stupidity and ill-will, each carried to its Kth. All 
that is done has to be done in spite of them; and, of course, as far as 
Lord Kimberley and Sir H. Roscoe are concerned, it is impossible to 
be otherwise than outwardly acquiescent and respectful. Sooner or 
later the running of the University will, I think, fall largely to Sidney 
and Hewins and one or two others: at present it is chaos. Meanwhile, 
we have been spending our substance on giving little dinners to diverse 
senators; trying to make them understand each other and accept 
Sidney’s view of university organisation. 

1901 

January ind, 1901. — Back in London after a few days with the 
Playnes and Hobhouses. The sisters do not grow apart as years roll on: 
indeed, the last few years have seemed to bring us all nearer together. 
Blood relationship is a very tenacious tie: it oudasts many relationships 
of choice — wears better than any other relationship (except marriage), 
though it is seldom so close or satisfying as the special intimacy of the 
moment. For, as one gets middle-aged, intimate friendships seem to 
fade away, and one is too much occupied and, in a sense, too utilitarian, 
to make new friends. One sees persons who are for the time one’s 
fellow-workers and these individuals are not necessarily sympathetic. 
Old friends die, or marry, or become estranged or indifferent; of my 

202 ■ ■ 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
early friendships few remain: the Booths and Margaret Harkness 
estranged, Carrie Browne dead, the Barnetts, Ben Jones, Ella Pycroft, 
Alice Green, Bella Fisher and Marie Souvestre all extremely friendly 
when we meet, but we meet, perhaps, once a year: in the case of these 
latter, perhaps, two or three times a year. There is, it is true, Herbert 
Spencer whom I occasionally visit, out of piety towards an old senti- 
ment. Then the “ two dear comrades and friends ” who for some half- 
dozen years regularly spent their holidays with us — Wallas and Shaw — 
are both of them married; and, though here again when we meet we 
meet as old friends, we seldom see each other. . . . And, possibly, they 
would all of them say that we were too much absorbed in each other 
to care for others and that our friendliness was more an overflow of 
our happiness than any special love for them. In fact, a sort of universal 
benevolence to all comers seems to take the place of special affection 
for chosen friends. It is only the persistent yet slack tie of sisterhood 
that seems to survive these inroads of indifference. 

The man we see most of nowadays is Hewins: every Tuesday he 
lunches with us to discuss the affairs of the School. He is original- 
minded and full of energy and faitli. Shaw always declares he is a 
fanatic. So he is. But he is also a born manipulator. We never know 
whether he is telling us his real opinion, or his real intention. We feel 
that we are being “ handled ” just as we watch him handling others. 
He ought to have been an ecclesiastic: and would have entered the 
Church if it had not been for the 39 Articles to be swallowed, just at 
a time when physical science and historical criticism made these tenets 
seem intellectually contemptible. In thought, he would be a reactionary 
if the present trend of Liberal opinion did not happen to be a reactioii 
from the doctrine of “ individual freedom ”. He hates disorder; he 
detests protestantism; or following the “ inner light ”, or any other 
rebellion against the reasonable will of the community. He is a great 
admirer of Chamberlain; dislikes all the Liberal leaders equally; votes 
Progressive, and is a member of the National Liberal Club. He is a 
Churchman and an ardent believer in the scientific method in eco- 
nomics and politics. He is disinterested with regard to money: he is 
ambitious of power — ^altogether he is one big paradox. But the most 
characteristic paradox of his nature is the union of the fanatic and the 
manipulator. With such a character it is difficult to be intimate, how- 
ever much it may excite one’s admiration, liking and interest. 

Naturally enough we have a large circle of friendly acquaintances, 
some of whom might be considered friends. Haldane, the Reeveses, 
the Bishop of London and Louise Creighton, the women factoiy 
inspectors. Lion Phillimore, the Bertrand Russells, the staff of the 
London School of Economics, the senators of the new University, the 


204 


FACTORY LEGISLATION 


Bishop of Rochester [Talbot] and his wife. Sir Alfred Lyall, the 
Richard Stracheys, and other more or less interesting folk — come and 
go: a still larger circle leave cards and force me, by so doing, to trudge 
to all the quarters of residential London. But, for the most part, we 
have been left to ourselves and allowed to spend our energies on our 
own special work. 

At present, I am writing the opening chapters to a small book on 
Factory Legislation: its Theory and Practice, or rather adapting portions 
of our Part III. of Industrial Democracy to a more popular audience. 
I have also undertaken to edit the remaining chapters, and to see the 
whole through the press. It is to be a counterblast to the persistent 
opposition to factory legislation on the part of the “ women’s rights ” 
movement reinforced by the employers’ wives. This opposition has for 
the last ten years blocked all progress in the effective application of the 
Factory Acts to other industries. It is led by a few blatant agitators, 
who would not count for much if they were not backed up by many 
“ society ” women who belong to the governing clique, and by a 
solid opposition to further reform from vested interests. What we have 
to do is to detach the great employer, whose profits are too large to feel 
the immediate pressure of regulation and who stands to gain by the 
increased efficiency of the factors of production, from the ruck of small 
employers or stupid ones. What seems clear is that we shall get no 
further instalments of reform unless we gain the consent of an in- 
fluential minority of the threatened interest. I feel sometimes in despair 
about the book. Beyond a little mechanical research, my mind has 
been entirely oft’ the subject of local government, either preparing 
lectures on industrial competition, or on methods of reseai’ch, or brood- 
ing over the religious question and the provision of a metaphysic and a 
mental hygiene. I have been reading at large on these questions: 
theology, saints’ lives, James’ Will to Believe, and his Psychology, various 
works on scientific method, and so on. The one subject my mind 
revolts at is local government. But we shall have to set to and do it 
directly the L.C.C. election is over. I am making elaborate arrange- 
ments for a good five months in the country, and hope to accomplish 
at least the first part (prior to 1835). We have masses of material, but 
all the thinking has to be done. 

January i y,th, 1 90 1 . — Mandell Creighton — Bishop of London- 
dead. One of our best friends. When we returned to London this 
autumn we found him invalided. He had broken down on his holiday, 
and was by the doctor’s orders confined to tlie house. Three or four 
times I went down to F ulham to see him either witli Sidney or alone. 
He was singularly gentle and sympathetic; eager to talk: the same 
delightful combination of banter and deep philosophy: the same strange 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
enigmatical view of all things, whether of God or man. The very last 
time, in fact, just before Christmas, I had a long talk with him whilst 
the other guests were at tea. I told him our plan for reforming the 
Church; our idea of religion as mental hygiene, and the way in which 
we thought the High Church doctrine more consistent with it, than the 
Evangelical. To all of which he listened, and half seriously and half 
playfully agreed. Then I sent him James’ Will to Believe and this note 
was the last word from him. 

I first knew the Creightons in August 1887. I remember so well 
that visit to Worcester: my interest in the versatile and pleasant 
ecclesiastic and don, my attraction to the handsome and direct-minded 
Louise, so different from each other, and yet so completely comple- 
mentary. From that time forward I remained a friend, and until they 
came to London used constantly to visit them. These visits to Cam- 
bridge and Worcester were among the happiest days of my life — during 
the long and trying time of Fatlier’s illness: the friendship, coming just 
at a time when I was suffering intensely, seemed a new opening into 
the world of distinguished men and women. And from the first they 
liked and trusted me — liked me for my best side. When I engaged 
myself to Sidney, they accepted him as their friend without hesitation; 
saw him through my eyes, and trusted him as they had trusted me. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Creighton had changed the life of a professor and 
author for that of a bishop. There are many of his friends who regretted 
the step. The freedom of view, the brilliant dialectic, the subtle paradox, 
which often covered a daring hypothesis — all these were in place in a 
Cambi'idge don; they became impossible, or at any rate most baffling, 
in a bishop. Agnostic friends, sensitive to the proprieties of life, no 
longer dared to join in this intellectual adventure, with one who ought 
to feel himself to be a successor of the apostles. And, owing to a strange 
contrariness and rebellious audacity, a reaction possibly from the daily 
routine of a bishop’s life, the change of position seemed for a time to 
accentuate the frivolous side of his intercourse witli the outer world. 
Smart stories, somewhat cynical repartee, took the place of free and 
easy discussion of metaphysical questions. It was not possible to treat 
as “ open questions ” matters upon which a bishop had to lay down 
the law according to his pledges. On the other hand, he was not willing 
to give up his position as a member of the republic of letters, tolerant 
of all views and ready to be convinced by evidence. Hence, between 
him and the more serious-minded of his heterodox friends there arose a 
certain atmosphere of constraint. In our case, this was neutralised by 
his unfailing interest in our educational and research work. For, outside 
the spiritual side of life, Creighton believed implicitly in the scientific 
method of observation and verifimion. And he believed in organisation 

206 



MANDELL CREIGHTON 


and machinery, in the regulation of conduct by law or public opinion, 
according to some deliberately conceived idea of social expediency. He 
had no faith in democracy} though he accepted it as necessary: his 
contempt for the politician amounted almost to intolerance. Lack of 
brains was to him the greatest social danger: with brains and goodwill 
no change was impracticable. Without intellectual leadership, the 
average man, however good his conduct, would remain in a state of 
squalor and mediocrity. 

Is Dr. Creighton a convinced Christian? was the question per- 
petually canvassed by his friends. I always felt it an impertinence for 
an agnostic to raise the question. His tolerance, his desire to find a 
common basis with all his friends, made him deliberately stow away 
his Christian assumptions when he talked with heretics. “ Let us find 
something on which we can agree, and argue on that basis ”, was 
always his attitude of mind. He realised that the ultimate convictions 
of serious-minded persons could not be altered by a conversation; that 
they were rooted in their experience of life, or in the constitution of 
their minds. He never, therefore, tried to convert: all he did was to 
endeavour to sympathise and to justify. Probably this uncommon 
willingness to accept any person’s fundamental assumptions, as a basis 
for argument, was the root of the feeling of many persons that he 
was intellectually insincere. Personally, I believe he had a firm belief 
in the validity of the Christian faith, and in its ultimate victory over 
other forms of thought. 

Rightly or wrongly, Creighton believed that, for a state Church 
you must put forward a lay as well as a spiritual justification. “ Baptism 
is the finest system of birth registration; Christianity is popular meta- 
physic; missions ai'e a method of teaching the subordinate races the 
assumptions of their governors ” — these and other sayings crept up in 
his conversation, addresses and charges. All this was sadly secular. The 
clergyman was not only a priest of the mystical body of Christ, he was 
also an extra official of the state charged with a certain supervision over 
education, poor law, and even sanitary work. Hence, during his reign 
in London, the Church was encouraged to throw itself bodily on the 
side of good, and even progressive, government in all local concerns. 
His own daughter he encouraged to become a manager, not of the 
voluntary schools, but of the board schools in Fulham. His conception 
was that the Church was to take its part in the secular affairs of the 
nation; its part being to keep up the standard of integrity, energy, 
scrupulousness and exact knowledge. In his short term of office he had 
assumed, to a large extent, the leadership of London life in secular as 
well as in spiritual matters; Nonconformists and secularists read his 
addresses with as much interest and, perhaps, even more edification 


207 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

than fervent churchmen. The last time I saw him he playfully re- 
marked that he would resign his bishopric and retire to a cottage and 
“ write messages to the English people ”, These messages would, I am 
convinced, have mainly consisted in advice on secular matters. 

Our intimacy with Dr. Creighton, and to a lesser extent with Dr. 
Talbot, has brought constantly before us the Church, its present 
difficulties and its future. Any outside demand for disestablishment and 
disendowment is dead at the present moment. A few political dissenters 
and Radical political workers in the smaller provincial towns still hold 
to the old doctrine of the iniquity of a union between Church and 
State. But, as far as the bulk of the people are concerned, this doctrine 
is obsolete. The town workman is now neither a Nonconformist nor a 
secularist, he is simply indifferent to the whole question of religion or 
metaphysic. On the other hand, he is inclined to think the hard- 
working curate, who runs his club, looks after his children on Sundays 
and holidays, stirs up the sanitary inspector and is sympathetic because 
acquainted with the struggle for better conditions of employment, a 
good fellow. He sees the dissenting parson moving out to the suburbs, 
the rich congregation preferring a new and fine building there to the 
old meeting-place down town. But the priest of the established Church 
remains in the old city parish, and is constantly abroad in the slums. 
The workman sees no distinction between the appropriation of the 
Church income by the clergy and the appropriation of mining royalties 
or ground values by the landlords, except in the expenditure of the 
income — ^a comparison immensely in favour of the clergyman, “ The 
majority of them do a day’s work for us and live among us, and it is 
precious poor pay they get for doing it ”, is a frequently heard remark. 
“ If we take to disendowing and disestablishing, we will deal with the 
landlords first ”, is the half-conscious thought of the revolutionary 
' workman. The educated classes who are not Church members are also 
losing their objections. “ Nature abhors a vacuum; all metaphysic is 
equally untenable if you require scientific proof: the Christian meta- 
physic no more than the Hegelian. Why not leave the people with the 
old traditional faith? ” are the dictates of' the enlightened. “ If the 
people wanted three state churches, I see no reason why they should 
not have them ”, remarked Lord Rosebery. Moreover, state endow- 
ment, state control, state ownership, are all the order of the day. 

Hence, there is no fear of destruction from without. But within 
there are disruptive tendencies. No man of culture can nowadays be 
a Protestant churchman of the old type— the dogma and doctrine, the 
written word of revelation are too ugly and impossible taken in their 
crudity. To be acceptable to tlie cultivated person the whole thing 
must be transformed by mysticism, by vague emotion, by the charm of 

208 


THE CHURCH 


tradition, on tire one hand, and the hope of doctrinal development, on 
the other. Cln istianity must have its past and its future; and each alike 
must be different from its present. Hence, unrest in the Church and 
the initiation and elaboration of ritual and discipline, to cover up 
diversity of thought and feeling. “ More room,” cries the young 
churchman, “ freedom from the limitations of the Elizabethan com- 
promise.” “ Let us push forward where thought and feeling lead us.” 
“ Impossible,” says the lawyer, “ here are the 39 Articles, and I am 
charged as the representative of the state to interpret them, and 
eventually to enforce them.” 

Our suggestion is briefly this: we want no more vexatious prosecu- 
tions. Hence, abolish the right of the individual to prosecute, make 
prosecution the function of the vestry of ratepayers. If the inhabitants 
of the parish are satisfied with the clergyman, let him have absolute 
freedom to develop. If, on the other hand, he has failed to satisfy them, 
give them the power to prosecute him for breaches either of doctrine 
or ritual, or for non-performance of his duties. Let the court be, in 
the first place, his bishop, and ultimately the bench of bishops; if either 
party appeals, sweep away the bishop’s veto on prosecutions — it is sheer 
nonsense to' give a judge a veto on prosecutions and, unnecessary, if you 
otherwise provide against mere capricious prosecutions from individuals. 
Sweep away the civil jurisdiction over the Church. We do not want a 
lawyer’s interpretation of the 39 Articles in the prayer book — we 
want a sympathetic interpretation by persons whose whole duty and 
life is to consider the national needs in the matter of religion. The 
secular state gets its control over the Church by the Prime Minister’s 
nomination of the bishops and by parliamentary power to legislate. 
That is sufficient. Give such a Church, deriving its authority directly 
or indirectly from the people, freedom to develop along its own lines. 

Of course, our object is to enable the Church to grow out of its 
present superstitious doctrine and obsolete form. We have faith that the 
development would be along the right lines. No doubt, at first, the 
direction would be sacerdotal and ritualistic. Pereonally, I do not 
altogether object to this. The more ritual, the more mystery, the more 
indefiniteness of thought, the greater the play for emotional purposes. 
Exactly, as in practical life, in the choice of ways and means, the 
scientific method, full and undefiled, must be exclusively relied on, so 
it seems to me in the higher ranges, in the choice of motives and ideals, 
it is a mistake to intellectualise, the expression must be obscure and 
elastic so as not to debase the purpose in the act of expression. And, 
though there are aspects of the priest which are distasteful, yet I desire 
to see the minister of religion practising the art of mental hygiene. I do 
not believe that the ordinary man is capable of prescribing for the 


209 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

diseases of the soul any more than they are for the diseases of the body. 
We need the expert here as elsewhere. Religion, to my mind, should 
consist in the highest metaphysic, music and ritual, and mental hygiene. 

And I desire that the national life should have its consciously religious 
side. If, as a state, we are purely rationalistic and selfish in our motives 
and aims, we shall degrade the life of the individuals who compose the 
state. I should desire the Church to become the home of national 
communal aspirations as well as of the endeavour of the individual 
towards a better personal life. Meanwhile, I prefer the present Church, 
with all its faults, to blank materialism or competitive sectarianism. 

To this short essay on Dr. Creighton, I add a more 
definite statement of my own outlook on life in the early 
years of the twentieth century. 

January 2Sth, 1901. — Reading Leslie Stephen’s Utilitarians. 
Always interesting to compare one’s own point of view with that of 
one’s parents! For Bentham was certainly Sidney’s intellectual god- 
father; and though I have never read a word of him, his teaching was 
transmitted through Herbert Spencer’s very utilitarian system of ethics, 
and his method through Spencer’s deductive reasoning from certain 
primary assumptions. How has the position of the disciples shifted 
from that of their past teachers? 

First, we agree that human action must be judged by its results in 
bringing about certain defined ends. There is no other sanction that we 
care to accept but results, though we should be inclined to give, 
perhaps, a wider meaning to results. For instance, the formation of a 
noble character, the increase of intellectual faculty, stimulus to sense 
of beauty, sense of conduct, even sense of humour, are all ends that we 
should regard as “ sanctioning ” action; quite apart from whether they 
produce happiness of one or all, or none. We altogether reject the 
“ happiness of the greatest number ” as a definition of our own end, 
though other pereons are perfectly at liberty to adopt it as theirs. I 
reject it, because I have no clear vision of what I mean by happiness, 
or what other people mean by it. If happiness means physical enjoy- 
ment, it is an end which does not recommend itself to me — certainly 
not as the sole end. I prefer to define my end as the increase in the 
community of certain faculties and desires which I happen to like — 
love, truth, beauty and humour. Again, I have a certain vision of the 
sort of human relationships that I like and those that I dislike. But 
we differ from the Benthamites in thinking that it is necessary that we 
should all agree as to ends, or that these can be determined by any 
science. We believe that ends, ideals, are all what may be called in a 


210 


UTILITARIANISM 


large way “ questions of taste ” and we like a society in which there 
is a considerable variety in these tastes. 

Science and the scientific method can be applied, not to the dis- 
covery of a right end, hut to a discovery of a right way of getting to any 
particular ends. And here it seems to me the Benthamites fell lament- 
ably short in their understanding of the scientific method. They ignored 
the whole process of verification. They deduced their ways of arriving 
at their own particular end — human happiness — from certain ele- 
mentary observations of human nature; but they never sought to test 
this “order of thought ” by the “ order of things ”. They never asked. 
Is it so? Now they were right in taking as their premiss an observation 
of human motive; they were right in forming a hypothesis deduced 
from this premiss. Where they went wrong, and most perniciously 
wrong, was in never attempting to verify and correct their hypothesis, 
and by this verification to discover other premises. Hence, tliey omitted . 
from their calculation some of the most powerful impulses of human 
nature: reverence for mystery, admiration for moral beauty, longing 
for the satisfaction of an established expectation, custom and habit, 
tradition, sense of humour, sense of honour, passionate longing for 
truth, loyalty — besides a host of mean vanities and impulses none of 
which produce happiness or aim at producing it, but are just blind 
impulses. 

February gth. — Met Lord Rosebery at Haldane’s again; Asquith, 
W. P. Reeves, Prof. Hewins, Prof. Massie and ourselves made up the 
party. I sat next to the great man who was gracious and less self- 
conscious than last time. But the entertainment was a futile business; 
we talked and laughed — “ showed off we never got anywhere near 
a useful discussion on questions in which we were interested. Prof. 
Hewins, Sidney and I had hoped to talk about the School with Lord 
Rosebery who is probably to be President, but we got nowhere near it. 
He is a strange capricious creature, always posing to himself and others, 
anxious only to attain right expression. I was angry with myself after- 
wards, and was strangely enough a bit vexed at being the only lady! 
That would not have maftered had we talked seriously — but in mere 
light banter — “ the eternal feminine ” will intrude, and in that case 
one likes companionship! 

But, undoubtedly, our excursions into “ society ” advance the 
interests of the School. We are to have a meeting at the Mansion House 
with the Lord Mayor in the chair; Lord Rosebery to make a great 
pronouncement in favour of commercial education in the abstract and 
the School in the concrete. Lord Rothschild to act as treasurer and 
other great persons to play up— the whole intended to raise a building 
and endowment fund for the School. All this is Haldane’s doing, partly 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
out of friendship for us, partly because he wants to interest his chief in 
mcompromtsing advance movements. Also, he delights in intrigue, and 
is amusing himself with putting into one company the most unlikely 
co-workers. An institution which has united as its supporters ourselves, 
Rosebery, Rothschild, the Bishop of London and the Fabian Society, 
is just the sort of mixed party which Haldane revels in. “ My dear 
Hewins,” said Haldane, “ you ignore the personal factor in politics.” 
For Hewins, though he willingly accepts the result, does not wholly 
like this “ society ” development. 

And, in truth, it has its unpleasant side. It is much wholesomer to 
win by hard work than by tliese capricious gusts of fancy in great folk. 
I feel that I am skating on rotten ice which might suddenly give way 
under me. I am not afraid of losing the support of the “ personages ”, 
because one does not count on its continuance and takes gratefully all 
one can get, knowing that it will come to an end. What I do fear is 
weakness in my own nature; incapacity to keep my intellect and heart 
set on our own work, undistracted by personal vanity or love of 
admiration. Fortunately, Sidney is absolutely single-minded. But, like 
Hewins, he does not quite like it. 

March Sih . — Brilliant victory at the L.C.C. election. For the last 
three or four months (indeed since October) Sidney has been organising 
the election: writing the election literature, insinuating articles in the 
press, gathering up the Progressive forces all through London, as well 
as engineering the Deptford fight. We fully expected to lose seats in 
London, and a portion of our own Deptford majority. But the Water 
Companies, at the last moment, won our battle for us by their proposed 
water regulations.* Directly tliese appeared we knew the tide was in 
our favours the only problem was to make it flow as swiftly as possible. 
Hence the articles contributed to all the halfpenny press, so that by the 
election day, every “ halfpenny ” was on our side and even the Daily 
Telegraph came out in our support! Still, the sweeping majority for 
the Progressives means that the London elector has confidence in the 
old gang which has now ruled London for^twelve years; and that, in 
spite of the fact that the old gang are exclusively Radicals, whilst the 
vast majority of electors are Tories. It is a striking testimony to tlie 
industry and capacity of a small body of administrators. The Moderates, 
on the other hand, are mediocrities, the larger number of them will 
not work; as a party they suffer from the same fatal defect as the 
Liberal Party in national politics; the majority of them have un- 

> These regulations imposed new and highly unpopular restrictions on what was 
already an inadequate water supply in many worldng-class districts. “ Vote for 
Monopoly and Bung— Unionist Candidates for the L.C.C. ", ran a Progressive election 
pastor. (Ed.) 


212 


MANSION HOUSE MEETING 

popular convictions and run away from them. To have unpopular 
convictions is bad enough; to run away from them is fatal. 

And now that the election is over, we can at last turn to the book. 
I have already begun to sort both the material and my ideas for our 
country sojourn. I am not satisfied with myself, but hope to be more 
so after a course of country air and exercise and concentration on our 
subject. London life, with its constant clash of personalities — its attrac- 
tions and repulsions, its manipulations and wire-pulling, is distracting 
and somewhat unwholesome. And this last year I seem to have passed 
into an emotional and imaginative phase, which, whilst it gives me a 
certain magnetic effect on others, knocks me to pieces myself. Indeed, 
I am becoming mediumistic. Country life and intellectual concentra- 
tion will, I trust, bring back a saner frame of mind. Brainwork is a 
wonderful specific against the manifold forms of hysteria. 

March iind . — Our long-planned meeting at the Mansion House 
came off yesterday. As far as we were concerned, there was no hitch 
in the arrangement. But, from Lord Rosebery’s black looks when he 
came on the platform, something had evidently gone wrong, and after- 
wards we gathered that he had intended making the meeting an 
.occasion to answer the somewhat futile remarks of Lord Salisbury on 
commercial education, but the Lord Mayor had intimated that such 
a course would be undesirable and that Lord Rosebery had, therefore, 
found himself cut off’ from the most effective part of his speech. It was 
not an able pronouncement but it sufficed, and has been a great 
advertisement for the School. Haldane spoke with real enthusiasm, and 
Harvey (of Glyn Mills) with knowledge of the subject. Lord Roths- 
child was unable to come but heads the contributions with ,^5000. The 
whole aff'air is an audacious advertisement and appeal. It will be a 
marvel if it does not provoke an attack on the management and teach- 
ing of the School. We are sufficiently firmly seated in the saddle to risk 
it. I feel that now we have done our utmost to give the School an 
independent life, it is time that it toddled out of our nursery and to 
some extent took its own dine. Sidney is now turning his mind to the 
University and has drafted a scheme for its complete reorganisation as 
a great centre of applied science. 

And now we can, or at any rate I can, turn my thoughts wholly to 
the book. Fortunately, my mind has become clear of the romancing 
which perturbed it a few weeks ago. One of those strange and mysteri- 
ous alternations which go on seemingly uncaused in our mental life— 
a sudden regaining of complete control over thought and feeling and a 
positive desire to concentrate all mental energy on intellectual work. 
It is as if a hidden influence had been withdrawn and the mind again 
mov ed freely. But the mere physical exhaustion of London life prevents 


213 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
me doing good and sustained work. I am longing for our three months 
in the country. 

Meanwhile, my boy is exceptionally well and happy. He is full of 
active thought and work; his health is excellent, he is conscious of 
success, and each day he seems more supremely happy in his love for 
me. All asperity and harshness has left him — he is always eager, but 
has lost the note of exasperation which used to characterise him. There 
is no slackening in his elFort: he is perpetually working. He has as 
much if not more faith; though possibly faith in science has increased, 
and faith in any particular economic doctrine has decreased. He is less 
of a doctrinaire than of old, more of an investigator. He is not a leader 
of men, but he is an initiator of policies: his influence is not con- 
centrated in his own personality, it ramifies through many organisa- 
tions and persons, the outcome of multitudinous anonymous activities. 
And I think the setting I have given him, of simple fare and dis- 
tinguished friends, suits him — ^both in reputation and taste. It satisfies 
his sense of consistency to adhere to a democratic standard of ex- 
penditure; and yet he reaps many of the advantages, in the scope and 
variety of social intercourse, of belonging to the inner circle of the 
political and scientific world. 

Jpril 2 nd . — Hewins came as usual to lunch to-day: he was in 
thoroughly bad humour. No money to speak of has come in as the 
result of the Mansion House meeting, and he declares that the Mansion 
House meeting was a big failure. The plain truth is that, in the first 
place, he expected far too much from the meeting; in the second place, 
he managed witlt less skill than usual. He seems to have got on 
Rosebery’s nerves, he failed to impress the Lord Mayor, and he delayed 
in sending out the appeal until five or six days after the meeting (we 
having understood that it went out on the very night of the meeting). 
Now he puts down the ill-success to the connection of the School with 
Lord Rosebery and the Fabian Society! We tried to calm and cheer 
him: suggested that Lord Rothschild’s ,^5000 was more than we had 
originally thought of raising, and that at leastthe meeting had advertised 
the School. But he was not to be comforted. Hewins has three weak 
points; he suffers from attacks of quite unreasonable impatience and 
depression; he is a slack organiser of his staff; and he seldom takes his 
chiefs into his confidence as to what he really intends to do. This 
destroys any complete reliance on him. But he has a magnificent energy 
and persistence, loyalty to his own ideas (which are in the main the 
same as our own), and personal disinterestedness. 

The three months between the first days of April and the 
beginning of July were spent, so far as I was concerned, 

■■ 


BERTRAND RUSSELLS 


with the Bertrand Russells at their house near Friday’s Hill, 
working on our local government book: the Other One 
spending the mid-week in London on L.C.C. and other 
business. Here is a vision of the Bertrand Russells as they 
seemed to us in the spring of 1901. 

July 1st. Friday's Hill . — ^The Russells are the most attractive 
married couple I know. Y oung and virtuous, they combine in the pair, 
personal charm, unique intelligence, the woman having the one, the 
man the other, in the superlative degree. Romantically attached to each 
other, they have diverse interests; Alys concerns herself with social 
reform, Bertrand with the higher mathematics. The scheme of their 
joint life is deliberately conceived to attain ends they both believe in, 
and it is persistently yet modestly carried out. The routine of their 
daily existence is as carefully planned and executed as our own. They 
breakfast together in their study at nine o’clock (we breakfast at 8 !), 
then Bertrand works at mathematics until 12.30, then three-quarters- 
of-an-hour reading together, a quarter-of-an-hour stroll in the garden 
together. Lunch with us, 1.30; chat in our sitting-room or out of 
doors, over cigarettes and coffee. Then Bertrand plays croquet with 
Logan [Pearsall] Smith (Alys’s brother who lives here) until tea at 4.30. 
After that mathematics until 6 o’clock, reading witlt Alys until 7.30, 
dine at 8 o’clock, chat and smoke with us until 9.30, another hour’s 
reading aloud with Alys until 10.30. They sleep and dress in the same 
room, and they have no children. . . . 

As individuals they are remarkable. Alys comes of an American 
Quaker family: she is charming to look at — tall, graceful, with regular 
features, clear skin, bright blue eyes, and soft curly nut-brown hair — 
always smiling, often laughing, warm-hearted and sympathetically in- 
telligent. She has not the gift of intimacy except with her husband; her ■ 
manner is the same to everyone — at least so far as I have seen. She 
has no arts of flirtation, if anything she prefers women to men— and I 
think really likes the womanly woman better than the professional. 
She has no moods, or they are controlled, she seems alwajra bappy and 
grateful for happiness and yet perpetually thinking how to make others 
happier. Since we have been here she has spent days away nursing a 
friend at Cambridge, with no consciousness of virtue, responding to a 
call of friendship as readily as most women respond to a call of pleasure. 
If she has a defect, it is a certain colourlessness of intellect and a 
certain lack of “ temperament ”. But in a woman are these defects? 

So much for our hosts. Besides these two, Logan Smitli, a refined 
and gentle-natured bachelor, with a pretty talent for turning out 
sentences and a taste for collecting bric-a-brac, is a daily visitor and 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
chats with us over afternoon tea. He, like his sister, is tall, delicate- 
featured and always smiling. But, behind this smile there is a deep- 
seated melancholy, due to a long record of self-conscious failure to 
become an artist of words. The world has proved too complex for him 
to grasp — he is perpetually breaking off before he has mastered even 
the smallest portion of it. He was meant, like Alys, to be a comple- 
mentary being: as a man he cannot find a career, or even a wife, to 
suit him. 

Bertrand is a slight, dark-haired man, with prominent forehead, 
bright eyes, strong features except for a retreating chin; nervous hands 
and alert quick movements. In manner and dress and outward bearing, 
he is most carefully trimmed, conventionally correct and punctiliously 
polite: in speech, he has an almost affectedly clear enunciation of words 
and preciseness of expression. In morals, he is a puritan; in personal 
habits almost an ascetic, except that he lives for efficiency and, there- 
fore, expects to be kept in the best physical condition. But, intel- 
lectually, he is audacious — ^an iconoclast, detesting religious or social 
convention, suspecting sentiment, believing only in the “ order of 
thought ” and the “ order of things ”, in logic and in science. He 
indulges in the wildest paradox and in the broadest jokes, the latter 
always too abstrusely intellectual in their form to be vulgarly coarse. 
He is a delightful talker, especially in general conversation, when the 
intervention of other minds prevents him from tearing his subject to 
pieces with fine chopping logic. He is always fruitful, especially in 
clearing up definitions and distinctions, or in following out logical con- 
clusions. He is fastidious with regard to friends and acquaintances: he 
dislikes bores and hates any kind of self-seeking selfishness or coarse- 
grainedness. He looks at the world from a pinnacle of detachment— 
dissects persons and demolishes causes. And yet he recognises that, as 
a citizen, you must be a member of a party; therefore, he has joined 
the Fabian Society! He more or less accepts Sidney as his “ repre- 
sentative ” man. But the kernel of his life is research into the processes 
of reasoning. Of this new and highly abstract form of logic, more 
abstract than mathematics, I have no vision. All that one can say is 
that the effect on his own mind of these processes of pure reasoning is 
to make him singularly helpful in clearing up more concrete issues, 
even when he starts with no specialised knowledge of facts. To sum 
up, he is an expert in the art of reasoning, quite independently of the 
subject-matter. 

A vigorous intelligence, at oncesubtle and honest, with the best kind 
of pride — the determination not to swerve from his own standards of 
right and wrong, truth or falsehood, are perhaps his finest characteristics. 
What he lacks is sympathy and tolerance for other people’s emotions; 

216 


GLADSTONIANISM 

and, if you regard it as a virtue, Christian humility. The outlines of 
both his intellect and his feelings are sharp, hard and permanent. He 
is a good hater. 

I observe in Bertrand a curious parallel between his intellectual 
and moral nature. He is intolerant of blemishes and faults in himself 
and others, he dreams of perfection in man; he almost loathes lapses 
from men’s own standards. So in his thought he is almost violently 
impatient of bad reasoning: a right conclusion come to by bad argu- 
ments is oflbnsive to him: it is the perfectmi of the reasoning that he 
seeks after, not truth of the conclusions. Now it seems to me that there 
is the same sort of connection between an intellectual concentration on 
applied science, and a tolerant, if not lax, judgement of men. Just as I 
am always striving to adjust my “ order of thought ” to the “ order of 
things ” — exactly as I am always looking to results as the test of right 
reasoning (power of prevision, for instance, as the result of shockingly 
bad reasoning?), so I am perpetually excusing myself and others for 
any lapses in morality. I analyse and describe my own and others’ faults. 
But these faults seldom offend me in themselves, but only becattse they 
result in what is unpleasant and ugly. I have no “sense of sin ”, and no 
desire to see it punished. Bertrand, on the other hand, is almost cruel 
in his desire to see cruelty revenged. 

July qth . — Haldane spent yesterday at Friday’s Hill, and brought 
us news of the Liberal Split and enlisted Sidney on the Asquith side. 
We had been watching with half indifference, half annoyance, the 
“ retreat ” of the Liberal Party within the old lines of Gladstonianism, 
under the leadership of Campbell-Bannerman nominally, but of the 
pro-Boers actually. The whole of the spring, tlie vacuum left by lack 
of any clear thinking among those who can think has been filled with 
pro-Boer sentiment of an extravagant kind, and the old sort of secularist 
individualist Radicalism. Morleyand Harcourt, supported by the Daily 
News, were showing signs of returning to political life; Campbell- 
Bannerman, a weak vain man who all along has been in his heart pro- 
Boer, had been entertaining Sauer and Merriman. The Liberal F edera- 
tion meeting at Bradford had been strongly pro-Boer in sentiment, 
though passing lukewarm resolutions of tlie official type. Meanwhile, 
the Imperialist section — Haldane, Asquith, Grey — had been working 
at the Bar, enjoying themselves in London “society” and letting 
things slide. Suddenly, they woke up to find the Liberal Party in the 
House of Commons under the leaderehip of Lloyd George, declaring 
itself definitely against the war, accusing Milner and the army of gross 
inhumanity and asserting the right of'the Boers to some kind of in- 
dependence. Campbell-Bannerman had been captured. 

Under the influence of his old friend Lord Milner (now in London), 


217 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
Asquith came down heavily, declared that the war was inevitable, that 
there had been no wilful cruelty, and that independence, in any sense 
the Boers would understand it, was impossible. He followed up his 
speech by voting against Campbell-Bannerman and the Irish and W elsh 
contingent, and led out of the House some thirty Liberal M.P.’s (the 
bulk of the English Liberals seem to have abstained either by accident 
or with intent). Then to emphasise this protest the more enthusiastic 
Liberal M.P.’s insisted on giving a dinner to Asquith — to fete him 
for his defiance of C. B. Hence the uproar; the uncomfortable spectacle 
of Asquith, Grey, Haldane, supported by the Tory press, in flat 
rebellion against C. B., the chosen leader of the Liberal Party, sup- 
ported by Morley, Harcourt and the whole force of pro-Boers. “ We 
are fighting for our lives”, said Haldane to me: “both Asquith and I 
would attach much importance to Sidney being present at the dinner: • 
we do not like to press it, because the whole movement may be a 
failure.” A dilemma: Sidney is pro-Boer in sentiment: he agrees with 
Asquith and Haldane, by reason; but he has not thought out the 
question, has paid little or no attention to it. It suits him infinitely 
better to keep out of the whole affair: he has already made his position 
among the Radicals “ suspect ” owing to his attitude with regard to 
school boards. Moreover, in many details, such as the retention of 
Lord Milner as administrator, he is not convinced that he would be 
prepared to risk complete colonial self-government in the Orange 
Free State and the Transvaal. On the other hand, Haldane has always 
trusted him in matters he cared about, has been the most loyal friend 
in all educational projects. “ I attach little importance to the dinner,” 
Sidney said to me when I told him of Haldane’s desires, “ and no 
importance to my being there. If Haldane wants me to go, I certainly 
will. I would rather, of course, have kept out of the whole affair, but 
one must be ready occasionally to step forward for one’s friends if one 
has no conviction to the contrary. As between the two sections of 
Liberals, my sympathies are with them. I think very little will come 
of either party, but Haldane and Asquith are at least not hostile to our 
views: the others are. I will go. But you need not imagine it of any 
importance, one way or the other.” 

And now that he has agreed to go I am worrying about it. First 
and foremost, I know he loathes the war; he thinks the whole episode 
of the Rand and the Chamberlain negotiations a disgrace to this 
country (though he attributes the inevitability of the war to the grant- 
ing of the Charter to the S.A. Co., and the discovery of gold on the 
Rand); he distrusts Milner; above all he feels uncertain as to his own 
opinions, having carefully avoided reading anything on the subject. 
“It is not my show ”, he has often said when I have suggested he 

218 



LORD ROSEBERY 


should read blue-boolcs. F rom a more selfish point of view, it suits him 
better not to be on either side so as to get what he can from both for his 
projects. Then I don’t believe in the genuineness of the Liberal M.P.s’ 
own questions; they live in the wrong atmosphere and are incurably 
lazy. They are desperately in awe of the City, consider the opinion of 
the Times, and have their eye on the goodwill of manufacturers — 
even on that of the brewers. Intellectually, they are more with us than 
the more Radical section : but they have no pluck and no faith. All these 
considerations rushed through my mind as I half deprecated Sidney 
accepting; but my instinctive wish was that he should accept in order 
to please Haldane, who has been so good to us. But no doubt, as Sidney 
says, his going or not going is of no importance. 

July 28M. — On the night Rosebery issued his famous letter to the 
City Liberal Club and to the press, Sidney was pacing the terrace of the 
House of Commons with Haldane and Grey, explaining to them the 
attitude they ought to adopt on home affairs, having been called in to 
consult with them. At the time when the journalists in the lobby were 
humming with excitement about the letter, Rosebery’s devoted lieu- 
tenants were absolutely unaware of its existence! “We are not in 
communication with Rosebery ”, Haldane had said to Sidney. Again 
on the Friday afternoon just before the Asquith dinner, I met Haldane 
in the House (whither I had gone to escort a young American lady) 
looking terrifically grave — almost agitated. “ He has made a great 
speech to the City Liberal Club: has repudiated the Liberal Party, 
has announced his intention of ‘ ploughing his own furrow ’ — all 
within a few hours of Asquith’s speech to-night — without a word of 
consultation. He is a Puck in politics ”, added Haldane with almost a 
note of exasperation. 

The dinner, however, went offjall right. It was a scratch assembly 
and Sidney was among the most distinguished of the guests. Margaret 
Hobhouse and I viewed it from the gallery. Asquith’s speech was manly 
and sensible, finely phrased and spoken with considerable fervour. But, 
read in cold blood the next morning, it suffered in comparison with 
Rosebery’s artistically sensational utterance. We did not take the tragic 
view of Rosebery’s intervention taken by the little set of his immediate 
followers. If Lord Rosebery really means business, really intends to 
come forward with a strong policy, then he has done his lieutenants 
a good service by stepping boldly out of the ranks of an obsolete 
Liberalism. Asquith, Grey and Haldane can only proclaim their own 
freedom within the Liberal Party, they cannot denounce the other 
sections of it, for the simple reason that it is not business for them to 
step away from the front bench. To the front bench they must stick so 
long as they can stick also to their own principles. But Rosebery is 



219 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
bound by no ties, and can do the necessary work of the iconoclast of 
the Gladstonian ideals. Rosebery’s business is to destroy Gladstonianism. 
Whether or not he is to become a real leader depends on whether he 
has anything to put in the place of a defunct Liberalism. Mere im- 
perialism will not do; that the other side have. Now supposing he fails, 
as I think he will fail, to be constructive, then he leaves the field open 
to Asquith, Grey and Haldane with a good deal of the rubbish cleared 
away. 

Whether this sort of reasoning glimmered into Haldane’s brain, I 
know not. But when he came in on Monday evening he was in high 
spirits. Asquith and he had made it up with Rosebery (they are for- 
giving mortals!). It was agreed, he said, that Rosebery and Asquith 
were to plough parallel furrows. Meanwhile, G. B. S. writes urging 
us to plunge in with Rosebery as die best chance of moulding home 
policy. We have succumbed to his flattery; and now Sidney, with 
occasional suggestions from me, is engaged on an article entitled “ Lord 
Rosebery’s Escape from Houndsditch ”. 

What was the thesis displayed in “ Lord Rosebery’s 
Escape from Houndsditch ”, published in the September 
number of the Nineteenth Century^ 1901.'’ The answer is: 
debunking Gladstonian Liberalism in order to clear the way 
for Fabian collectivism. Instead of ploughing his furrow in 
lonely grandeur, Lord Rosebery is respectfully incited to 
offer himself as titular leader to the progressive group of 
Liberals led by Asquith, Haldane, Grey and Acland, “ a 
group of men of diverse temperaments and varied talents, 
imbued with a common faith and a common purpose, and 
eager to work out, and severally to expound, how each 
department of national life can be raised to its highest 
possible efficiency. If he does nothing but plough his own 
furrow,” the author adds, “ Lord Rosebery will, I fear, 
have to plough it alone ” (p. 386). 

Here are a few extracts, out of the twenty-paged article 
explaining its title and indicating the course to be taken by 
a reinvigorated and up-to-date Opposition to the Conservative 
Government: 

Mr. Gladstone, as we now learn upon the unexpected testimony of 
Lord Tweedmoutli, regarded the last twenty years of his life as having 
been spent in “ patcliing up old clothes ”. His achievements as a sartorial 


ESCAPE FROM HOUNDSDITCH 

artist in politics approached, it must be admitted, the miraculous. But 
the patched-up suits of 1880, 1885 and 1892, though they served their 
immediate purpose, have, under the expanding conditions of con- 
temporary politics, proved wretched wearing material. Not even Mr. 
Gladstone could have patched them up again. With amused dismay 
the new generation of progressives have lately witnessed Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman piecing together the Gladstonian rags and 
remnants, with Sir William Harcourt holding the scissore, and Mr. 
John Morley unctuously waxing the thread. Mr. Asquith and Sir 
Edward Grey are sufEciently up-to-date resolutely to refuse even to 
try on the re-patched garment, but they are not in a position to decline 
to associate with those who still believe the Gladstonian cut to be 
fashionable. Lord Rosebery is the only person who has turned his 
back on Houndsditch and called for a complete new outfit. This is the 
first step towards the regeneration of the Opposition. I say the Opposi- 
tion advisedly, for the political opportunity of the moment is hot for a 
regeneration of Gladstonianism, or of “ the Liberal Party ”, or of 
anything else that had its day in the last century, but solely for a live 
Opposition. That Opposition, when it comes, may call itself the Liberal 
Party or any other name that may be convenient. But it is certain 
that it will not be the old Gladstonian party — quite the contrary, in 
fact — and that it will not become a political force until, meeting the 
new needs and expressing the new aspirations of the twentieth century 
— dealing, as Lord Rosebery rightly says, “ in a new spirit with the 
new problems of the age it thereby makes itself into a practicable 
alternative to the Conservative Government. 

What then is the matter with the Liberals.'' For fifty years, in the 
middle of the last centuiy, we may recognise their party as “ a great 
instrument of progress ”, wrenching away the shackles — political, 
fiscal, legal, theological and social — that hindered individual advance- 
ment. The shackles are by no means wholly got rid of, but the political 
force of this old Liberalism is spent. During the last twenty years its 
aspirations and its watchwords, its ideas of daily life and its conceptions 
of the universe, have become increasingly distasteful to the ordinary 
citizen as he renews his youth from generation to generation. Its 
worship of individual liberty evokes no enthusiasm. Its reliance on 
“freedom of contract” and “supply and demand”, with its corre- 
sponding “ voluntaryism ” in religion and philanthropy, now seems 
to work out disastrously for the masses, who are too poor to have 
what the economists call an “ effective demand ” for even the minimum 
conditions of physical and mental health necessary to national well- 
being [pp. 366-7]. . . . The England of this generation is changing 
because Englishmen have had revealed to them another new world of 


221 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
relationships, of which they were before unconscious. This time it is 
not a new continent that the ordinary man has discovered, but a new 
category. We have become aware, almost in a flash, that we are not 
merely individuals, but members of a community, nay, citizens of the 
world. This new self-consciousness is no mere intellectual fancy, but 
a hard flict that comes home to us in our daily life. The labourer in the 
slum tenement, competing for employment at the factory gate, has 
become conscious that his comfort and his progress depend, not wholly 
or mainly on himself, or on any other individual, but upon the proper 
organisation of his trade union and the activity of the factory 
inspector. . . . The freedom for his trade union to bargain collectively, 
freedom for his co-operative society to buy and sell and manufacture, 
freedom for his municipality to supply all the common needs of the 
town, freedom, above all, from the narrow insularity which keeps his 
nation backing, “ on principle ”, out of its proper place in the comity of 
the world. In short, the opening of the twentieth century finds us all, 
to the dismay of the old-fashioned individualist, “ thinking in com- 
munities . 

Now the trouble with Gladstonian Liberalism is that, by instinct, 
by tradition, and by the positive-precepts of its past exponents, it “ thinks 
in individuals It visualises the world as a world of independent 
Roundheads, with separate ends, and abstract rights to pursue those 
ends [p. 369]. • • . Their conception of freedom means only breaking 
somebody’s bonds asunder. When the “ higher freedom ” of corporate 
life is in question, they become angrily reactionary, and denounce and 
obstruct every new development of common action. If we seek for the 
greatest enemy of municipal enterprise, we find him in Sir Henry 
Fowler. If we ask who is the most successful opponent of any extension 
of Ma common rule of factory legislation to wider fields of usefulness, 
the answer is Mr. John Morley. And, when a leader is needed by 
those whose unalterable instinct it is to resist to the uttermost every 
painful effort towards the higher organisation of that greatest of co- 
operative societies, the state itself, who than Sir William Harcourt, at 
his most eloquent, can be more surely depended upon? Not that I have 
any right to reproach these eminent ones for standing by their principles. 
The principles were fresh once — in the last quarter of the eighteenth 
century. Their exponents’ minds were fresh, too, about the middle of 
the nineteenth. But Adam Smith is dead, and Queen Anne, and even 
Sir Robert Peel; while as to Gladstone, he is by far the deadest of them 
all [pp. 370-71]. . . . And I confess that I feel the hopelessness, even 
the comic absurdity, of seeming to invite his more elderly lieutenants, 
at their ages, to change their spots— to turn over a new leaf and devote 
themselves to obtaining the greatest possible development of municipal 


222 


ESCAPE FROM HOUNDSDITCH 

activity, the most comprehensive extension of the Factory Acts, or the 
fullest utilisation of the government departments in the service of the 
public. I know too well that they quite honestly consider such aims 
to be mischievous. They are aiming at something else, namely, at the 
abstract right of the individual to lead exactly the kind of life that he 
likes (and can pay for), unpenalised by any taxation for purposes of 
which he individually disapproves. They are, in fact, still “ thinking in 
individuals ” [p. 370]. 

No leader will attract the support of the mass of unpolitical citizens 
— who in this juncture, at any rate, alone can give a decisive vote — 
without expanding his thesis of national efficiency into a comprehensive 
and definite programme. Nay, he must do more. He must understand 
his programme, believe in his programme, be inspired by his pro- 
gramme. He will, in fact, lead the English people — eager just now for 
national efficiency, they care not how— only by becoming a personified 
programme of national efficiency in every department of life. 

Here Mr. Asquith is on the right tack; “ What is the use of an 
Empire ” (he asks) “ if it does not breed and maintain in the truest and 
fullest sense of the word an imperial race? What is the use of talking 
about Empire if here, in its very centre, there is always to be found a 
mass of people, stunted in education, a prey to intemperance, huddled 
and congested beyond the possibility of realising in any true sense either 
social or domestic life? ” [p. 375]. 

So far Lord Rosebery and Mr. Asquith, Mr. Haldane and Sir 
Edward Grey are right in their diagnosis. The nation sees that these 
men, in their different opportunities, have had the coumge to cast off 
the old clothes. But, at present, we are all in the dark as to what is to 
be the new outfit. . . . What steps would their alternative government 
take to ensure the rearing of an imperial race? What action have they 
in mind for healing the open sore of the sweated trades: what do they 
intend to do with the poor law: what plan have they thought out for 
stimulating and directing the utmost possible municipal enterprise in 
sanitation and housing: what is their scheme for a comprehensive 
national system of education from the infant school to the university: 
what are their practical conclusions as to increasing the grants-in-aid, 
and assessing site values: how do they intend to transform the present 
silly procedure of the House of Commons; do they propose to simply 
neglect the military situation? It is on questions of ffiis sort that they 
must, during the next few years, mark themselves out from their 
opponents, and convince us that they have a faith and a programme 
rooted no less in knowledge than in conviction. To think out such a 
programme is, of course, irksome, and, as every political Poionius will 
advise, to commit yourself to it is inconvenient — if you do not believe 

■ , 223 , 



THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
in it. But, to create a live opposition — still more, to construct an 
alternative government: — this new thought and this new propaganda 
must be undertaken. If even one-half of the study and conviction, 
money and capacity, were put into such a campaign for the next live 
years that Cobden and Bright put into the Anti-Corn Law League, 
the country could be won for a policy of national efficiency. Without 
the pledge of virility which a campaign of this sort would afford, the 
nation will not be persuaded [pp. 385-6J. 

October 1st. — Sidney’s article in the Nineteenth Century has been a 
brilliant success. No doubt there are some who found the self-assertive- 
ness and contempt of others somewhat intolerable; but cveiyone has 
read it and found it new and full of substance (G. B. S. corrected the 
proof and inserted some of the brilliance). The Asquith, Haldane, 
Grey lot are delighted with it: Rosebery evidently pleased.. The news- 
papers have taken it seriously, and it has improved his standing, I think, 
and made people feel that he is to be reckoned with. Now I am urging 
him to publish the positive side in a Fabian tract, and I intend to give 
the substance of it in a lecture at Oxford. 

Meanwhile, we have no illusions about the Liberal Imperialists. 
We think that neither Rosebery nor Asquith mean to declare them- 
selves in favour of our measure of collectivism. But they hold no views 
that are inconsistent with it — have nothing to offer but a refusal to 
take up the distinctive side of the old Liberalism. The time will come 
when, if they are to be a political force, they will have to “ fill up ” the 
political worker with some positive convictions. Then, we think, for 
the needful minimum of nourishment they will fall back on us and 
not on the other section. 

But national affairs are not invigorating at present: the wretched 
war drags on, the newspapers nag and scold, and the Government 
seems helpless and the Opposition are more and more divided. The pro- 
Boers are very naturally rubbing their hands and saying “ I told you 
so ”. Personally, if there is no danger of intervention, I do not think 
the S.A. situation so intolerable as other persons do, and the longer 
and more determined the resistance, the more complete and thorough- 
going will be the collapse of the Boer nationality. And, with a race 
with so much patriotism, stubbornness and superstition, one wonders 
whether any more easy settling down would be permanent. 

October 13?^.— Sidney and Hewins in first-rate spirits about the 
School; building nearly complete and paid for, equipment provided 
from the hung-up grant of the T.E.B., a small but certain income 
from the same source and plenty of students. Hewins, who now sees 
before him a fine position and £600 p.a. secured, is somewhat elated 
224. 


“son eminence grise” 

and would, I think, tend to have a swelled head if it were not for the 
amount of skill and self-subordination required to engineer the business 
over the shoals of the university organisation. Again, one realises how, 
in a large and complicated society like the London educational world, 
the whole power of moulding events falls into the hands of the little 
clique who happen to be in the centre of things. Ten years ago Sidney 
could no more have influenced the teaching of economics and political 
science in London than he could have directed the policy of the 
Cabinet. But now no one can resist him; he wields the L.C.C. power 
of making grants, he is head of the one live institution; he is, on his 
own subjects, supreme on the University Senate (because he is thought 
to have the L.C.C. behind him), and he knows every rope and has 
quick and immediate access to every person of influence. Somehow I 
doubt whether such a state of things is quite wholesome: of course, one 
believes that in this case the hidden hand is beneficent and efficient! 
But the converse — the feeling of absolute helplessness against the 
doings of less efficient cliques! — is not so pleasant. One wonders 
whether it would be possible to conduct a country’s government 
with efficiency and yet with free access and no favour to all con- 
cerned. 

November 1st . — Asquith and Haldane dined here alone on Monday 
— the latter proposing to bring the former for a quiet chat. The talk 
did not come to much. They are, I think, somewhat depressed. Rose- 
bery had “ carted them so Haldane said, and was going to take his 
own line quite aloof from anything they might think or write. Asquith 
was preparing set speeches on social questions. But Haldane was still 
keen on winning the centre, a term which he always uses as synonymous 
with the non-political voter, in whose ultimate power we believe. In 
reality, these two sections — the centre and the non-political voter- 
are entirely different and to my mind very unequal in importance, 
What Haldane sees is tlie moderate politician: the capitalist or pro- 
fessional man who desires little social change and the Empire main- 
tained. But the class we wish them to appeal to is the great lower 
middle-class and working-class, who want change, but don’t know in 
what direction. Any party that knew its own mind as well as the facts, 
and had will to apply the one to the other, would succeed, in the long 
run, in getting hold of these classes for its policy of reform. 

Rosebery is really on the same line as Haldane, though playing a 
diffei'ent tune. Altogether the position seems somewhat hopeless. 

Asquith impressed me with his manliness and unselfconsciousness, 
also with his shrewd open-mindedness; but he is a coarse-grained in- 
strument and will never strike the imagination of any large section of 



THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
ill it. But, to create a live opposition — still more, to construct an 
alternative government' — this new thought and this new propaganda 
must be undertaken. If even one-half of the study and conviction, 
money and capacity, were put into such a campaign for the next five 
years tliat Cobden and Bright put into the Anti-Corn Law League, 
the country could be won for a policy of national efficiency. Without 
the pledge of virility which a campaign of this sort would afford, the 
nation will not be persuaded [pp. 385-6]. 

October 1st. — Sidney’s article in the Nineteenth Century has been a 
brilliant success. No doubt there are some who found the self-assertive- 
ness and contempt of others somewhat intolerable; but everyone has 
read it and found it new and full of substance (G. B. S. corrected the 
proof and inserted some of the brilliance). The Asquith, Haldane, 
Grey lot ai'e delighted with it: Rosebery evidently pleased., The news- 
papers have taken it seriously, and it has improved his standing, I think, 
and made people feel that he is to be reckoned with. Now I am urging 
him to publish the positive side in a Fabian tract, and I intend to give 
the substance of it in a lecture at Oxford. 

Meanwhile, we have no illusions about the Liberal Imperialists. 
We think that neither Rosebery nor Asquith mean to declare them- 
selves in favour of our measure of collectivism. But they hold no views 
that are inconsistent with it — have nothing to offer but a refusal to 
take up the distinctive side of the old Liberalism. The time will come 
when, if they are to be a political force, they will have to “ fill up” the 
political worker with some positive convictions. Then, we think, for 
the needful minimum of nourishment they will fall back on us and 
not on the other section. 

But national affairs are not invigorating at present: the wretched 
wai- drags on, the newspapers nag and scold, and the Government 
seems helpless and the Opposition are more and more divided. The pro- 
Boers arc very naturally rubbing their hands and saying “ I told you 
so ”, Personally, if there is no danger of intervention, I do not think 
the S.A. situation so intolerable as other persons do, and the longer 
and more determined the resistance, the more complete and thorough- 
going will be the collapse of the Boer nationality. And, with a race 
with so much patriotism, stubbornness and superstition, one wonders 
whether any more easy settling down would be permanent. 

October iph . — Sidney and Hewins in first-rate spirits about the 
School; building nearly complete and paid for, equipment provided 
from the hung-up grant of the T.E.B., a small but certain income 
from tlie same source- and plenty of students. Hewins, who now sees 
before him a fine position and ]£6oo p.a. secured, is somewhat elated 


224 


“son eminence grise” 


and woulclj I think, tend to have a swelled head if it were not for the 
amount of skill and self-subordination required to engineer the business 
over the shoals of the university organisation. Again, one realises how, 
in a large and complicated society like the London educational world, 
the whole power of moulding events falls into the hands of the little 
c//fue who happen to be in the centre of things. Ten years ago Sidney 
could no more have influenced the teaching of economics and political 
science in London than he could have directed the policy of the 
Cabinet. But now no one can resist him: he wields the L.C.C. power 
of making grants, he is head of the one live institution; he is, on his 
own subjects, supreme on the University Senate (because he is thought 
to have the L.C.C. behind him), and he knows every rope and has 
quick and immediate access to every person of influence. Somehow I 
doubt whether such a state of things is quite wholesome: of course, one 
believes that in this case the hidden hand is beneficent and efficient ! 
But the converse — ^the feeling of absolute helplessness against the 
doings of less efficient cliques! — is not so pleasant. One wonders 
whether it would be possible to conduct a country’s government 
with efficiency and yet with free access and no favour to all con- 
cerned. 

November 1st . — Asquith and Haldane dined here alone on Monday 
— the latter proposing to bring the former for a quiet chat. The talk 
did not come to much. They are, I think, somewhat depressed. Rose- 
bery had “ carted them ”, so Haldane said, and was going to take his 
own line quite aloof from anything they might think or write. Asquith 
was preparing set speeches on social questions. But Haldane was still 
keen on winning the centre, a term which he always uses as synonymous 
with the non-political voter, in whose ultimate power we believe. In 
reality, these two sections — the centre and the non-political voter — 
are entirely different and to my mind very unequal in importance. 
What Haldane sees is the moderate politician: the capitalist or pro- 
fessional man who desires little social change and the Empire main- 
tained. But the class we wish them to appeal to is the great lower 
middle-class and working-class, who want change, but don’t know in 
what direction. Any party that knew its own mind as well as the facts, 
and had will to apply the one to the other, would succeed, in the long 
run, in getting hold of these classes for its policy of reform. 

Rosebery is really on the same line as Haldane, though playing a 
different tune. Altogether the position seems somewhat hopeless. 

Asquith impressed me with his manliness and unselfconsciousness, 
also with his shiewd open-mindedness; but he is a coarse-grained in- 
strument and will never strike the imagination of any large section of 



225 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

The last entry of the diary is a preface to a new friendship 
which opened out in the following year: 

December igoi. — ^Wells’ Anticipations. The most remarkable book 
of the year: a' powerful imagination furnished with the data and 
methods of physical science, working on social problems. The weak 
part of Wells’ outfit is his lack of any detailed knowledge of social 
organisations — and this, I think, vitiates his capacity for foreseeing 
the future machinery of government and the relation of classes. But 
his work is full of luminous hypotheses and worth careful study by 
those who are trying to look forward. Clever phrases abound, and by 
the way proposals on all sorts of questions — from the future direction 
of religious thought, to the exact curve of the skirting round the wall 
of middle-class abodes. 

1902 

Jatiuary 2^th . — ^We spent Christmas with Alfred [Cripps] and the 
Courtneys. Our host was in splendid form; well in health and full of 
public a&irs. He had been in close communication with Balfour and 
Chamberlain trying to arrange some sort of compromise between them 
with regard to the Education Bill. Joseph Chamberlain was against 
state aid, fearing the recrudescence of the “ church-rate ” crusade. 
Balfour felt the force of the Church’s cry “ now or never ”. He and 
Sidney d iscussed the question : as usual the “ little j ewel of an advocate ’ ’ 
had not thought out the position and, though he and Sidney agreed on 
main points, Cripps was inclined to leave all knotty points to be settled 
by the House: a counsel of despair when the knots are so complicated. 
Dear old Leonard kept out of all this confidential talk: he and Kate 
spending their time with the young people, while Alfred, Sidney and I 
sat over the library fire. I fancy that Alfred feels his feet again in 
politics, and sees office near at hand should the opportunity for a new 
man arise. We laughingly decided that, if the three brothers-ln-law 
were in leading positions in the House, it would end in Sidney and 
Alfred arranging compromises between the two front benches, with 
Leonard always in opposition! ‘ The Courtneys were as self-righteously 
pro-Boer as ever, but more subdued. “ We are passing through some 
smoke (effect of Lord R.’s speech),” said Leonard, “ but it will 
clear off.” 

February 28/A. — ^We are at present very thick with the “ Limps ”. 
Asquith, Haldane, Grey, Munro Ferguson and the [Jack] Tennants, 
form a little family group into which they have temporarily attracted 
Sidney by asking him to their little dinners and informal meetings. 

» It h amusing to recall dial Alfred and Sidney became fellow-members of the 
two Labour Cabinets of 1924 and 1929-31 (Oct. 1937). 

226 


THE “limps ’’ 


Close acquaintance with them does not make one more hopeful. 
Asquith is wooden, he lacks every kind of enthusiasm, and his hard- 
headed cold capacity seems to be given, not to politics, but to his legal 
cases. His brother-in-law. Jack Tennant, and Haldane both assure us 
that he could retire to-morrow from the Bar if he chose and that he 
only stays at it “ for an occupation Strange lack of imagination not 
to see that there is an over-abundance of hard persistent work ready 
to his hand in politics, alike in thinking out reforms and in preaching 
them, and organising a party to push them. That lack of imagination 
and sensitiveness to needs lies at the root of Asquith’s failure as a 
leader of men. For the rest, he has neither charm nor personal 
magnetism : he has to gain his position by sheer hard work, and that 
work he is not inclined to do in politics. Grey is a slight personj he has 
charm of appearance, of manner and even of character; but he is I fear 
essentially a “ stick ” to be used by someone else! “ Politics have 
completely changed,” he said plaintively to me when he was last dining 
here, “ formerly you had your cause made for you, all the politician 
had to do was to preach it; now you have to make your cause.'" Beyond 
foreign and colonial policy (whatever that may mean), Grey has no 
original ideas and finds it hard even to appreciate the ideas of others. 
And he has no notion of work as the main occupation of life; politics 
is merely with him an episode in his daily life, like his enjoyment of 
nature, books, society, sport (mostly nature and sport be it said). Neither 
Asquith nor Grey are, as politicians, well served by their respective 
wives, Margot is, I believe, a kindly soul; but, though she has in- 
telligence arid wit, she has neither intellect nor wisdom. She is incurably 
reactionary in her prejudices: her two delights are hunting and other 
out-door exercises, and fashionable society. She is said to be ambitious 
for her husband; but, if so, her method of carrying out her ambition 
lacks intelligence as well as intellect. Lady Grey is a fastidious aristocrat, 
intensely critical of anyone to whom work is the principal part of life. 
She is clever enough to see that work alone counts, and yet knows, 
in her heart of hearts, that neitlier she nor her husband are capable of 
it. As for Haldane, to whom we are both really attached, he is a large 
and generous-hearted man, affectionate to his friends and genuinely 
enthusiastic about the advancement of knowledge. But his ideal has no 
connection with the ugly rough and tumble work-a-day world of the 
average sensual man, who is compelled to earn his livelihood by 
routine work and bring up a family of children on narrow means. 
Unmarried, living a luxurious physical but a strenuous mental life, 
Haldane’s vital energies are divided between highly-skilled legal work 
and the processes of digestion — for he is a Herculean eater. He finds 
his relaxation in bad metaphysics and in political Intrigue — that is, in 


227 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

trying to manipulate influential persons into becoming followers of 
Rosebery and members of the clique. Be it said to his credit, that he 
has to some extent manipulated us into this position. Munro-Ferguson 
is merely a pleasant young aristocrat. Perhaps, the most keen of the 
lot are the Jack Tennants. Mrs. Jack (formerly an inspectress of 
factories) is a fine-natured woman, with I'eal knowledge and en- 
thusiasm. She has inspired her husband with the same helpful attitude 
towards social questions. But Jack is a little man physically and 
mentally, and the notion of his being a force approaches the ridiculous. 
There remains die mysterious Rosebery. At present he is an enigma. 
Whether on account of his social position or of his brilliancy, or 
because of his streaks of wit and original thought, he can make all 
the world listen. He has imagination and sensitiveness, and he is a born 
actor. He is first-rate at appearances. Moreover, he seems to be develop- 
ing persistency and courage. But as yet he shows no signs of capacity 
for co-operation, or even for leadership of a group of suboi'dinates. 
All he has yet done is to strike attitudes that have brought down the 
House at die time, and left a feeling of blankness a few days later. To 
be a great leader, a man must either understand problems himself or be 
able to handle men who do understand them. Rosebery sees many 
persons, but only in order to extract from them the essence of public 
opinion so as to appear before the world in a popular attitude. He 
never asks how actually to work the machinery of government so as 
to get the best results. Has he any clear and definite view of tile 
character of the results he wants to get? I fear not. 

And why are we in this galley? Partly because we have drifted into 
it. These men have helped us with our undertakings, they have been 
appreciative of our ideas, and socially pleasant to us. They have no 
prejudice against our views of social reform: whilst their general 
attitude towards the Empire as a powerful and self-conscious force is 
one witli which we are in agreement. Moreover, the leaders of the 
other school of Liberalism are extremely distasteful to us : we disagree 
with them on almost every point of home and foreign policy. Before 
we can get the new ideas and new frame of mind accepted, we must 
beat out the old. That is why we are not against the policy of the 
“ clean slate ”. We want to be rid of all the old ideals and enthusiasms 
—we want to stamp out the notion that the world can be bettered by 
abolition of some of the existing institutions; we want, on the contrary, 
to set people to work to build up new tissue which may in time take 
the place of the old. In Ireland, for instance, we don’t Want to abolish 
the union with England, but so to reconstruct the internal govern- 
ment that it will make the bond of union of secondary importance. 
We do not want to abolish or remodel the House of Lords, but to 

228 


THE NEW LIBERALISM 


build up precedents for their non-intervention with national ex- 
penditure — all collectivism coming under this head. We do not want 
to disestablish the Church, but to endow science and secular ethics and 
any other form of intellectual activity that may seem desirable. We 
don’t want to abolish or restrain the development of private enterprise, 
but, by creating dykes and bulwarks, to control its mischievous effect 
on the character of the race. We do not want to unfetter the individual 
from the obligation of citizenship, we want on the contrary to stimulate 
and constrain him, by the unfelt pressure of a better social environ- 
ment, to become a healthier, nobler and more efficient being. 

To these ideals the old Liberalisms of Leonard Courtney, Morley, 
Campbell-Bannerman, and the bulk of Celtic members of Parliament, 
are not only unsympathetic, but really hostile. Asquith, Haldane, Grey 
and, I think, Rosebery, are sympathetic though timorous. They will 
not themselves push these ideals (Rosebery is as likely as any to do it), 
but they will follow any one who does, if there seems to be the least 
response from public opinion. And, if Sidney is inside the clique, he will 
have a better chance of permeating its activities than by standing aloof 
as a superior person and scolding at them. So I am inclined to advise him 
to throw in his lot with them in the days of their adversity and trial, 
when an addition to their ranks from the democratic side is of great 
value to them. Half the art of effective living consists of giving yourself 
to those who need you most and at the time of their most pressing want. 
And, seeing that politics is a mere bye-product of our life, our own 
special work to-day being administration or investigation, there seem 
few reasons against this course of action. If we came to throw our 
main stream of energy into political life, we should have to choose our 
comrades more carefully. 

The Technical Education Board is a source of worry and anxiety 
to Sidney. The hostility of the Conservative Government to the School 
Board, and the threat to abolish it, have reacted on the Radical L.C.C. 
and made it inclined to refuse to compete with the Radical School 
Board for the administration of education. J. R. MacDonald, Sidney’s 
old enemy in the Fabian Society, slipped into the Council at an un- 
contested bye-election and apparently spends his time in working up the 
feeling against the Technical Education Board and Sidney’s administra- 
tion of it. He is anxious to get on to it, and Sidney is doing his best to 
get him in, believing that an enemy is always safer inside than outside 
a democratic body. But it means friction and a good deal of bickering. 
MacDonald does not hesitate to accuse Sidney of taking advantage of 
his position to favour the School of Economics * — ^an accusation which 

' July igzi. — More than a year after this entry Sidney was told by a fellow- 
member of the Technical Education Board that J. Ramsay MacDonald had been 


m 




THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
is perfectly true, though we think absolutely harmless. In administra- 
tion, you must advance the cause which you think right and are, 
therefore, interested in. The unpleasant sound of the accusation is 
conveyed by the double meaning of the word “ interested ” which in 
most men’s mouths m^m pecuniarily interested. We believe in a school 
of administrative, political and economic science as a way of increasing 
national efficiency; but we have kept the London School honestly non- 
partisan in its theories. Otherwise “ interested ” we are not, unless the 
expenditure of our own energy and money on an institution be termed 
“ interested ”. And Sidney’s energies have by no means been ex- 
clusively devoted to the subjects he is intellectually interested in. He 
has, I think, been quite exceptionally catholic in his organisation of 
secondary, technical and university education in London, alike in the 
class of students to be provided for and the range of subjects taught. 
Heaven knows there were arrears to be made up in politics, economics 
and the science of administration. 

The Progressives are not very happy among themselves. The more 
eminent of them have served as chairman, or refused to do so; and 
there comes the question whether the hard-working little “ cads ” of 
the party shall succeed to the chair, or whether some well-bred 
nonentity shall be promoted. Sidney, though willing to back up the 
majority of the party in any course they think fit (he does not attach 
much importance to the whole business), is inclined to advise a frank 
recognition of the plebeian character of the L.C.C., and to take an 
excellent and devoted member who drops his hh rather than an in- 
significant lord. The matter has been compromised by the choice of a 
plebeian as chairman and a lord as vice-chairman. But it has left heart- 
burnings and ill-feeling within the party committee: Sidney acting as 
peace-maker. By his colleagues he is considered a non-competitor: he 
has made education his province and rules over it undisturbed; he has 
no desire to be chairman or vice-chairman, or leader of the party in 
the Council itself. 

We have seen something lately of H.. G. Wells and his wife. Wells is 
an interesting though somewhat unattractive personality except for his 
agreeable disposition and intellectual vivacity. His mother was the 
housekeeper to a great establishment of 40 servants, his father the 
professional cricketer attached to the place. The early associations 
with the menial side of a great man’s establishment has left Wells 
with a hatred of that class and of its attitude towards the lower 

spreading a report that Sidney and I were making an income by lecturing for the 
School. As he was perfectly well aware that, far from taking money from the 
School, we had been spending our surplus on the School and the library, and that 
Sidney and I only lectured there in order to relieve the School from paying lecturers, 
this libel was inexcusable. 


230 


H. G. WELLS 


orders. His apprenticeship to a draper, his subsequent career as an 
assistant master at a private venture school, as a state student at 
South Kensington living on ,^1 a week, as an army crammer, as 
a journalist and,- in these last years, as a most successful writer of 
fiction, has given him a great knowledge of the lower middle-class 
and their habits and thoughts, and an immense respect for science 
and its methods. But he is totally ignorant of the manual worker, on 
the one hand, and of the big administrator and aristocrat on the other. 
This ignorance is betrayed in certain crudities of criticism in his 
Anticipations-, he ignores the necessity for maintaining the standard of 
life of the manual working population; he does not appreciate the need 
for a wide experience of men and affairs in administration. A world 
run by the physical science man straight from his laboratory is his ideal: 
he does not see that specialised faculty and knowledge are needed for 
administration exactly as they are needed for the manipulation of 
machinery or [natural] forces. But he is extraordinarily quick in his 
apprehensions, and took in all the points we gave him in our 48 hours’ 
talk with him, first at his own house and then here. He is a good 
instrument for popularising ideas, and he gives as many ideas as he 
receives. His notion of modern society as “ the grey ”, not because it 
is made of uniform atoms of that shade, but because of the very variety 
of its colours, all mixed together and in formless mass; his forecast of 
the segregation of like to like, until the community will become 
extraordinarily variegated and diverse in its component parts, seems to 
us a brilliant and true conception. Again, democracy as a method of 
dealing with men in a wholesale way — every man treated in the bulk 
and not in detail, the probability that we shall become more detailed 
and less wholesale in our provision for men’s needs — that again is a 
clever illumination. Altogether, it is refreshing to talk to a man who 
has shaken himself loose from so many of the current assumptions, and 
is looking at life as an explorer of a new world. He has no great faith 
in government by the “ man in the street ” and, I think, has hardly 
realised the function of the representative as a “ foolometer ” for the 
expert. 

March \^th . — Met “ Imperial Perks” at Mr. Haldane’s — a re- 
pulsive being — hard, pushing, commonplace, with no enthusiasms 
except a desire to have his “ knife into the Church ” — ^a blank materialist 
although a pious Protestant, who recognises no principle beyond self- 
interest. I confess the thought that Perks was a pillar of the new 
Liberal League staggered me: how could we work with such a loath- 
some person! A combination of Gradgrind, Pecksniff and Jabez 
Balfour. And the choice of tiiis man as their first-lieutenant throws an 
ugly light on Lord Rosebery. Anyway, we and Perks are incompatible 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

in views, in tastes, and in all our fundamental assumptions as to ends 
and methods. This is no doubt an exaggerated statement; but regarded 
from a strictly matter-of-fact point of view, I doubt whether a leader 
who found Perks a delectable companion would really tolerate us and 
our ways when he came to know us and realise what state of things 
we were working to bring about. The situation is made worse by the 
fact that Perks is the only man in the group who is in deadly earnest 
and, therefore, if the group succeeds, is likely to come out top. To 
think of Perks as an English Cabinet Minister; Ugh! The very notion 
of it degrades political life. 

T wo months’ sampling of the Liberal Imperialists has not heightened 
our estimate of tliem. Asquith is deplorably slack, Grey is a mere 
dilettante, Haldane plays at political intrigue and has no democratic 
principle. Perks is an unclean beast, and as for Rosebery, he remains 
an enigma. He, at any rate, has personal distinction, originality and 
charm; but he seeks only appearances, has no care for or knowledge 
of economic and social evils, lives and moves, and has his being, in the 
plutocratic atmosphere, shares to the full the fears and prejudices of his 
class. Moreover, he is a bad colleague, and suffers from lack of nerve 
and persistent purpose. As for the rank and file, they are a most hetero- 
geneous lot, bound together by their dislikes, and not by their positive 
convictions; they have no kind of faith in any of their leaders, and are 
in constant fear as to their political future and personal careers. And 
rising up against them is a force which will become apparent at the 
next election — Labour candidates officially run by the great trade 
unions, backed up by pro-Boer capitalists. That combination will have 
no constructive power. Here, again, the two elements are bound 
together, not by a common faith, but by a common hatred. But it will 
be able, in many places, to smash the Liberal Imperialists. Thus the 
Liberal Party seems cleaved into two equally unpromising sections — 
Rosebery appealing to the grey mass of convictionless voters on the 
broad and shallow ground of Empire and efficiency; C. B. relying on 
every description of separatist interest, on all the “ antis ” — anti-war, 
anti-United Kingdom, anti-Church, anti-capitalist, anti-Empire. Both 
combinations seem to me equally temporary and equally lacking in 
healthy and vigorous root principles. 

Having done our little best to stimulate the “ Limps ” into some 
kind of conviction, and having most assuredly failed, we now return 
to our own work. Three months’ peaceful and strenuous effort in the 
country seems a delightful prospect. And between me and this diary, I 
think the “ Limps ” will be glad to be rid of us! Our contempt for 
their “ limpness ” and our distrust for their reactionary views are too 
apparent. 


Webb’s bill 

Afril ^Sth. Sussex . — Poor Sidney is somewhat distracted with anxiety 
with regard to the future of the School, the development of opposition 
to the Technical Education Board and theL.C.C. His principal con- 
cern is the exact constitution of the educational authority for London 
to be proposed next year. It so happens that he can use the fear of 
the borough councils as the authority to frighten the opponents of the 
T.E.B. on the Council. It is an open secret that a strong section of the 
Cabinet is in favour of a joint-committee of the borough councils 
which would be a disaster of the fiist magnitude to the whole of higher 
education in London. To avert this disaster we are moving ail the 
forces we have any control over — our friends in the Church, university 
educationalists, permanent officials and any one having influence over 
Ministers, against the proposal of an education authority elected by 
and from the borough councils. 

It is, perhaps, fortunate that Sidney is known to approve the lines 
of the present Bill applying to the country outside London. Indeed, 
our Radical School Board friends scoff about “ Webb’s Bill ” — which, 
of couree, is an absurdity. They will scoff the more if next year we 
are hoist by our own petard! Meanwhile, he is writing an article for 
the Nineteenth Century for June on the London University in the hope 
of catching a millionaire! Beit is biting! 

Friday's Hill, May \th . — Settled again for our nine weeks’ sojourn 
with the Russells. Hard at work on poor law reports of 1834. 1 had 
to break into this work to help Sidney through with his University of 
London article. . . . Sidney is somewhat distracted with his under- 
takings and feels himself at times unequal to them. “ I am not a big 
man,” he says plaintively to me, “ I could not manage any larger 
undertakings.” But, as I tell him, it is exactly this consciousness of 
imperfection, whilst others find him competent, that shows that he 
is more than equal to his task. We only feel completely complacent 
with our effort when we have ceased to grasp the possibilities of the 
situation. 

Enjoyed my week’s work on the University article, a relief from the 
grind of facts — a chance for scheming, an intellectual occupation I 
dearly love. 

At this point I think it well to interpolate some explana- 
tion of our scheme for a reconstructed London University. 
The University of London, founded in 1837, was merely a 
corporation to confer university degrees. It had no pro- 
fessors; it gave no teaching; it conducted no research; it 
■ ■ '233 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
awarded its degrees to persons coming from all parts, on 
their passing examinations on papers set by examiners whom 
they had never seen. It is true that there were various colleges 
scattered over London’s vast area; the oldest entitled Uni- 
versity College, being (as the Anglicans declared) “ god- 
less”, at which my father, a Unitarian debarred from 
Oxford and Cambridge, got his academic education; and 
King’s College, established avowedly in opposition to 
University College, in order that young men of Church 
families should not be tempted to resort to the “ godless ” 
college. To these had gradually been added a dozen hospital 
schools of medicine and surgery; and also colleges for teach- 
ing science, mostly in its practical applications, or for train- 
ing science teachers. Many of the students of these London 
colleges sat for the London University examinations, and 
were awarded its degrees. But they had no better chance 
than students from other cities or other countries. All the 
graduates of the University of London were alike “ external 
students ”. Most of those responsible for the management 
of the University gloried in this “ externality ” of their 
graduates, and were proud of the fact that there was abso- 
lutely no contact between those who examined and the 
aspirants for degrees. And all London’s millions lacked the 
encouragement, the fertilising influence of contact with 
educated minds, the intellectual direction and the develop- 
ment of research into the unknown, with all its inventions 
and discoveries. 

Now this lack of university inspiration and direction to 
London’s intellectual life had been complained of for many 
years by all sorts of people, and a whole generation of efforts 
had failed of achievement. There had been many plans for 
university reform, and more than one Royal Commission 
had reported on one scheme after another. At last the 
Government got through Parliament an Act re-establishing 
the University of London on the basis of a complicated 
compromise between the conflicting parties, combining the 
examining board awarding, the external degrees with the 
various autonomous colleges giving the necessary instruction 

234 


LONDON UNIVERSITY ACT 


to internal students. ' This, however, came to little better than 
formal binding together of college professors and university 

• The passing of the Act was due to R. B. Haldane. “ My great question ”, he 
writes in his autobiography, “was how to extend University organis.ation in 
England. There were some excellent colleges, but outside Oxford and Cambridge 
very little of University life. 

“ I approached Balfour about the University of London [1898]. It was then a 
mere board for examining outside students who got from it external degrees by 
means of examinations without teaching. Valuable as the work of extending degrees 
to external students had been in the past, it was no longer sufficient. The system 
lent itself to the purposes of the crammers, and the school teachers in particular- used 
it for obtaining what were virtually little more than trade-marks. The real purpose 
of University ti-aining, the development of the mind in the atmosphere of the teaching 
university, where teachers and taught could come into close relation, was lacking. 

“ So strongly was this felt that many of the professors in the London colleges 
had set their hearts on the establishment of a second and professorially run uni- 
versity, with no external examinees at all. I knew that the opposition to so far- 
reachmg a measure would be too sti-ong to overcome in the then indifferent state of 
public opinion. I saw that, as a first step at all events, the only way was to pass an 
act enlarging the existing University of London by giving it a powerful teaching 
side. This might be relied on in the end to absorb the other side by reason of its 
quality. Of this opinion also was my friend Sidney Webb, who as the successful 
Chief of the Technical Education Board of the London County Council had great 
opportunities of studying the practical problem. . . . Sidney Webb and I took 
counsel together. _He was a very practical as well as a very energetic man. We 
laid siege to the citadel. We went round to person after person who wag prominent 
in the administration of the existing University. Some listened, but others would 
not do so and even refused to see us. In the end we worked out what was in substance 
the scheme of the London University Act of 1898. The scheme was far from being 
an ideal one. It provided by way of compromise for a senate which was too large to 
be a really efficient supreme governing body for the new composite University, 
and it had other shortcomings of which we were well aware. But it did set up a 
teaching university, although Convocation, with its control of the external side, 
vrould remain unduly powerful. We saw that the scheme thus fashioned was the 
utmost we could hope tor the time to carry, in the existing state of public opinion 
about higher education in London.” 

Some years later R. B. Haldane was again at work improving London University 
education! “ During this period the affairs of London University were approaching 
a crisis, and in the end I undertook the Chairmanship of the Royal Commission, 
which sat for four years and finally reported. I managed to carry this on through the 
later period of my tenure of the War Office and during the earlier part of my Lord 
Chancellorship until the Report was signed. That Commission -was a very interesting 
one. Among my colleagues were Lord Milner, Sir Robert Morant, Sir William 
M'Cormick, my old friend the ex-judge Sir Robert Romer, and Mrs. Creighton. 
... I ought to say that my investigations in Germany had at an early stage im- 
pressed me unfavourably with the separation which had been made there between 
the universities and the great technical colleges, and when subsequently, after study- 
ing the organisation of Charlottenburg on the spot with the aid of my friend 
Geheimrat Witt, the Professor of Chemistry there and head of the school, I set to 
work in London, along with Mr. Sidney Webb and Sir Francis Mowatt, to found 
the new Imperial College of Science and Technology, I decided to press for the 
application of a different principle. The new college was to be tyhioned so as to 
be brought as quickly as possible into a reconstructed University of London. I 
presided over the departmental committee which prepared the Charter, or rather 
presided over it during the second and final year of the inquiry ” {Rickard Burdon 
Haldane— An Autobiography (1919) (pp. ia4-6 and 90-9^). 



235 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
examiners, under a composite Senate having the smallest 
possible financial endowment, or administrative control. 
The reorganised University started on what was little more 
than a formal existence, in which all the several parts 
wrangled over and largely counteracted each other’s projects 
and proposals. Some fresh convulsion, amounting perhaps to 
a new birth, was required to give the organism a genuine 
life. 

What exactly was our scheme for the reconstructed 
London University: what kind of university was possible in 
London.? Here are a few extracts from the article by the 
Other One in the Nineteenth Century, June 1 902 ; 

Any practical policy for a London University has, it is clear, to have 
regard to the limitations, the needs and the opportunities of London 
life. It may at the outset be admitted that, for any university of the 
Oxford or Cambridge type, the metropolis is perhaps more unfit than 
any other spot that could be chosen. By no possible expenditure could 
we create at South Kensington, in the Strand, or at Gower Street, the 
tradition, the atmosphere, the charm or the grace of collegiate life on 
the Isis or the Cam. Nor is it possible to secure, amid the heterogeneous 
crowds of London and all its distractions, either the class selection or 
the careful supervision required by the parents of boys fresh from Eton 
or Harrow, with two or three hundred a year to spend in pocket- 
money. . . . With the exception of country students coming to study 
medicine or engineering, the undergraduate class of London University 
will, we may infer, be confined to London residents, and, among these, 
to students from the 99 per cent of London homes which are main- 
tained on incomes under ,^1500 a year. ... 

What, now, should be the policy of the new London University? 
First and foremost we must accept, as the basic principle of its structure, 
an organisation by faculties, not by colleges or other institutions. Only 
on this principle can we develop a university structure adapted to the 
needs and opportunities of the metropolitan area. London, it is clear, 
can have but one university. For the small German town or provincial 
English centre, the university may suitably be of simple and, so to speak, 
unicellular type. Oxford and Cambridge, with their close aggregation 
of separate colleges of identical pattern, present us with what may be 
called a multicellular development of the same elementary type. By no 
such simple repetition of parts could we create a university for the 
huge area and dissimilar conditions of the metropolitan districts. Its 
unique combination of a widely dispersed undergraduate population 

■ 236 ■ ■■■■■■ 


LONDON UNIVERSITY 

and centrally segregated materials for research, its union of the most 
democratic student life with the most perfectly selected intellectual 
aristocracy of science, necessarily call for a more highly organised 
structure, lliis is found in the establishment, as the principal organs 
of the university, of separate faculties, each of them highly dilferentiated 
in structure, so as to fit it for dealing, in its particular department of 
learning, with all the teaching and all the research from one end of 
London to another, and capable of indefinite expansion, without inter- 
fering with any other faculty, to meet the requirements of every part 
of the area and every development of the subject-matter. So long as 
the several colleges or other teaching institutions regard themselves, 
and are regarded, as the units of university organisation, their in- 
stinctive megalomania is a disruptive force, creating internecine 
jealousy and competition for students, and impelling each particular 
institution, irrespective of its local conditions or special opportunities, 
to strive to swell itself into a complete university on a microscopic 
scale. Make the faculty the unit, and the same megalomania impelling 
the professors to work for the utmost possible extension and improve- 
ment of the faculty as such, serves only to extend the influence and 
enhance the reputation of the university as a whole. This is not to 
say that there is no place in the London University for separately 
organised institutions and autonomous governing bodies. It is im- 
practicable and undesirable for the University Senate or the University 
faculties to undertake the vast business of managing all the colleges and 
other teaching institutions within the metropolitan area. Whether 
these institutions devote themselves to particular departments of re- 
search, to special grades of teaching, to distinct subjects of study, or to 
the local requirements of their districts, the University will with 
advantage leave to their governing bodies a large autonomy in business 
management and finance, and concern itself only with seeing that such 
portions of their teaching staff and students, their courses of instruction 
and equipment, as are recognised by the University, are properly 
organised and co-ordinated with the larger life of the whole. The lines 
along which this co-ordination must necessarily proceed are marked 
out by the subjects of teaching or research; that is to say, by faculties. 
At present there are eight such faculties — ^namely, arts, science, 
medicine, law, music, theology, engineering and economics. But the 
number of separate faculties will gradually increase, either by simple 
additions, such as pedagogy and philosophy, or, with the advance of the 
subjects, by the further differentiation into separate organisations of 
such large and comprehensive divisions as “ science ” or “ arts ”. . . . 

Thus, instruction will have to be provided in the evening as well 
as in the day-time, and it should be carried on, with proper relays of 


237 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

teachers, practically continuously throughout the whole year. There 
is no harm, and indeed great advantage, in these University courses 
being attached to polytechnics or technical institutes whose other 
departments are of less than university rank. The University will, of 
course, take care to appoint or recognise none but thoroughly com- 
petent teachers; it will see that the courses of instruction are given 
the genuine university spirit: it will maintain a high standard in 
laboratory accommodation ; and it will naturally admit, as university 
students, only those who satisfy its matriculation and other require- 
ments. Subject to these conditions, there can be nothing but advantage 
in an indefinite multiplication of opportunities for undergraduate study 
in the whole of the vast area extending from Maidenhead to Gravesend, 
from Guildford to Bishop’s Stortford. In the popular faculties of science 
and engineering, there will, not improbably, soon be an effective 
demand — measured by the presence of fifty to a hundred undergraduate 
students at each place — for complete degree courses at forty or fifty 
such centres. Even such a multiplication would give, for each centre, a 
population as great as that of Aberdeen or Plymouth. The teachers at 
these exclusively undergraduate centres, who will be chosen, it may be 
hoped, from the ablest post-graduates of London or other universities, 
must, of course, be members of the faculties and boards of studies in 
their respective subjects, and every possible opportunity should be given 
for them to meet, for the discussion of how best to advance their 
particular branch of learning, not only their contemporaries, but also 
their more distinguished colleagues, the chief university professors, 
whose pupils they will probably have been. Only by the frank accept- 
ance of some such policy of extreme local dispersion of the mere 
undergraduate teaching, coupled with a highly organised intellectual 
intercourse between all the university teachers in each subject, can 
the London University rise to the height of its opportunity as the uni- 
versity for seven millions. ... 

But a university is, or ought to be, much more than a mere place 
for teaching. Its most important function in the state is the advance- 
ment of every branch of learning For the advancement of learning 

in this, the Baconian sense, the conditions of London life, far from 
being adverse, are, in reality, in the highest degree favourable. Even 
without the staff or equipment of a great university, London has 
always contributed much more than its quota to scientific discovery. 
It was by no mere accident that Davy and Faraday, Huxley and 
Tyndall, Sir Joseph Hooker and Herbert Spencer, had all worked in 
London. London’s unparalleled wealth in “ material ” for obsei'vation 
and study necessarily makes it the principal centre for every branch of 
English science. The intellectual environment is no less favourable 

238 


LONDON UNIVERSITY 


than the wealth of material. The fact that all the learned societies 
meet in London is significant. No place provides, in each subject of 
study, so highly specialised a society, in which the ablest thinkers and 
investigators in any department of learning can meet in friendly con- 
verse, not only their foreign colleagues visiting the great city, but also 
those who are, in the practical business of life, both needing and using 
the newest discoveries. Add to these natural resources of metropolitan 
life a university of the type required by London’s nced,s — a large 
closely knit and highly specialised professoriat in each faculty directing 
the researches of assistants and post-graduate students in the different 
branches of each science — ^and we shall have created, in the very heart 
of the British Empire, an almost ideal centre from which future 
generations of investigators and inventors may explore new realms of 
fact, discover new laws, and conquer new applications of knowledge 
of life. In the whole range of the physical and biological sciences, in 
the newer fields of anthropology, archaeology, philology, pedagogy 
and experimental psychology, in the wide vistas opening out for applied 
science and the highest technology, in the constantly changing spheres 
of industrial and commercial relations, administration and political 
organisation, we may predict with confidence that a rightly organised 
and adequately endowed London University will take a foremost part 
in the advancement of learning. ... 

It may be that we must forego in London University the culture 
born of classic scholarship and learned leisure. But, if we can show 
that there is no incompatibility between the widespread instruction of 
an undergraduate democracy and the most effective provision for the 
discovery of new truth j between the most practical professional training 
and genuine cultivation of the mind; between the plain living of hard- 
working students of limifed means and high intellectual achievements, 
we shall not, I venture to believe, appeal in vain. London University 
must take its own line. They are futile dreamers who seek to fit new 
circumstances to the old ideals; rather must we strive, by developing 
to the utmost the opportunities that the present affords us, to create 
out of twentieth-century conditions new kinds of perfection, r 

April 1902. Fridays Hill . — Sidney had Morant to stay here. 
Morant is the principal person at the Education Department. He has 
occupied the most anomalous position the last six months. Taken into 
the office as a nondescript in a humble capacity some years ago, Gorst 
picked him out for his private secretary. In that way he became 
acquainted with the politicians — Cabinet Ministers and Conservative 
private members, who were concerned with Education Bills and educa- 
• “London Ifniversity: A Policy and a Forecast”, by Sidney Webb, 
Nineteenth Century, 1902. 


^39 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

doll policy. Presently these folk — specially the Cabinet Ministers, 
found him a useful substitute for Kekewich (permanent head), who 
was deadly opposed to their policy, and even for Gorst with whom 
they were hardly on speaking terms, the situation being complicated 
by the fact that Gorst and Kekewich were complete incompatibles, 
having no communication with each other ! So Morant has been ex- 
clusively engaged by the Cabinet Committee to draft this present Bill, 
attending its meetings and consulting with individual members over 
clauses, trying to get some sort of Bill through the Cabinet. Both 
Kekewich and Gorst have been absolutely ignored. Neither the one 
nor the other saw the Bill before it was printed. J ust before its introduc- 
tion in the House, Morant wrote to Gorst saying he assumed he 
“ might put his name at the back Gorst answered; “ I have sold 
my name to the Governmentj put it where they instruct you to put 
it! ” Morant gives strange glimpses into the working of one depart- 
ment of English government. The Duke of Devonshire, the nominal 
Education Minister, failing through inertia and stupidity to grasp any 
complicated detail half-an-hour after he has listened to the clearest 
exposition of it, preoccupied with Newmarket, and in bed till 12 
o’clock; Kekewich trying to outstay this Government and quite super- 
annuated in authority; Gorst cynical and careless, having given up 
even the semblance of any interest in the office; the Cabinet absorbed 
in other affaire, and impatient and bored with the whole question of 
education. “ Impossible to find out after a Cabinet meeting,” Morant 
tells us, “ what has actually been the decision, Salisbury does not 
seem to know or care, and the various Ministers, who do care, give 
me contradictory versions. So I gather that Cabinet meetings have 
become more than informal — they are chaotic — breaking up into little 
groups, talking to each other without any one to formulate or register 
the collective opinion. Chamberlain would run the whole thing if he 
were not so overworked by his own department.” 

Sidney and Morant discussed for many hours the best way of so 
influencing the Cabinet and its advisers that we get a good authority 
for London. Decided to send out the T.E.B. report widely with 
personal letters, and to set on foot quiet “ agitations ” among the 
Church folk and other Conservative circles. Among others, Sidney has 
written a short note to Chamberlain drawing his attention to the 
policy of “ delegation ” in the T.E.B. [report], leaving it to be under- 
stood that he would be prepared to delegate management of the 
elementary schools (properly safeguarded) to borough council com- 
mittees. Also to Balfour — in fact, I think he has written to every 
prominent personage, to each according to his views and degree of 
influence. . 


240 


LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS 

May yjOth . — Y esterday the formal opening of the new building of 
the School of Economics, a day of satisfaction to Sidney, Hewins and 
myself. Our child, born only seven years ago in two back rooms in 
John Street, with a few hundreds a year, from the Hutchinson T^'rust, 
despised by the learned folk as a young man’s fad, is now fully-grown 
and ready to start in the world on its own account. There is the build- 
ing and equipment, all admirably planned to suit the sort of work and 
life we have built up; there are the staff of teacheis modestly but 
permanently endowed, there are the formidable list of governors, over 
which Sidney presides, and last but not least the School has attained 
university status with its own curriculum, its own degrees, and with 
even a prospect of its own gown. Meanwhile, Sidney’s personal work 
has broadened out into the administration of university affairs as a 
whole, his position on the Senate is strong and seems destined to 
become stronger, since he is always mentally on the spot long before 
the others have arrived there. He and Hewins too are a strong com- 
bination among the warring atoms, and are reinforced by Dr. Robertson 
of King’s and such outside members as W. P. Reeves, and Lord Davey, 
whilst Sidney is one of Dr. Rucker’s (the new principal) more con- 
fidential advisers. Should he become one of the trustees of the fund 
that Haldane is trying to raise, still more should he pei-suade the 
L.C.C. to “ go ” a |d. or |d. rate, his influence with the Senate will 
become alarmingly strong and no doubt create anger and envy in 
various quarters. He will then have to walk warily, and not abuse his 
predominance. Fortunately for his work, he never suffers from infla- 
tion, he is too completely absorbed in getting things done and too 
sincerely modest to lose his head. All his aggressiveness has disappeared 
with his good fortune, that is his personal aggressiveness, he remains a 
good fighter when he has his back to the wall. In his opinion, fighting 
should always be the last resource before being beaten on some main 
issue of real importance. 

Peace with the Transvaal; political burial of the pro-Boers. Im- 
mediate increase in popularity of Government: rise of Rosebery 
“futures ”. He is playing the game of leading the Liberal Party on 
his own terms with consummate deftness. 

June ^th. Friday's Hill . — Graham Wallas spent the afternoon and 
evening here without Audrey. He is more in his old form than I have 
seen him for years. The approaching abolition of the School Board, in 
which he acquiesces (on general grounds of objection to ad hoc bodies 
and I think on the particular experience of the L.S.B.). has detached 
his mind from the minute details of school management and left it 
freer to turn back to tlte student’s life. He and I had a long discussion- 
walking on Marley Common— as to our respective position with 
24.1 K. 



THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

regard to denominational religion. He recognises but deplores tile 
growing tolerance of it, if not sympathy with religious teaching, on 
the part of confessed agnostics. He distinguished with some subtlety 
between the old broad Church party, who wished to broaden the creed 
of the Church to one which they could emphatically accept, and those 
religious-minded agnostics who accept Church teaching, not because 
they believe its assertions to be true, but lest worse befall the child’s 
mind iti the form of a crude materialistic philosophy. “ I cannot see 
the spirit of genuine reform, if there is no portion of the Church’s 
teaching which you object to more than any otherj if you cease to dis- 
criminate between what you accept and what you reject, denying all 
and accepting all, with the same breath, denying the dogmas as state- 
ments of feet, accepting them as interpreting a spirit which pleases you. 
Dean Stanley and the broad churchmen were in quite different position: 
they denied the Athanasian Creed and wished it ousted, they believed 
the Apostles’ Creed and fervently and sincerely desired it to be taught.” 
I admitted there was much in his contention. I could only shelter 
myself by the argument that the reform of the Church was not the 
work I had undertaken to do, or which I was trained to consider. The 
practical alternatives before us constituted a very simple issue; whether 
we were to throw our weight against the continuance of the present 
form of religious teaching and help to establish pure materialism as the 
national metaphysic; or whether we would accept, provisionally, as 
part of the teaching in the schools, the dogmas and ritual of the 
Christian Church of to-day. For my own children, and for those of 
otlier people, I deliberately believed the lie of materialism to be far 
more pernicious and more utterly false than the untruths which seem 
to me to constitute the Christian formula of religion. Moreover, we 
are face to face with the fact that the vast majority of the English 
people are, as far as they think at all, convinced Christians. By insisting 
on secular education, I should be not only helping to spread what 
seems to me a bad kind of falsehood, but I should be denying to others 
the right to have their children taught the creed they hold to be 
positively true. I see no way out of the dilemma, but the largest variety 
possible of denominational schools, so that there may be the utmost 
possible choice for parents and children, and, let me add, the widest 
range of experiment as to the results of particular kinds of teaching on 
the character of the child and its conduct of life. 

'June 5?/); — For about three weeks out of the eight, Bertrand 
Russell has been away staying with his friends the Whiteheads, and 
poor Alys has been too unwell to be here. A consciousness that some- 
thing is wrong between them has to some extent spoilt our sojourn 
here, both Sidney and I being completely mystified. We became so 
242 


BERTRAND RUSSELL 


concerned about the situation that I suggested that I should take Alys 
off to Switzerland to complete her cure, and Sidney acquiesced out of 
affection for her and genuine admiration for Bertrand. It would be a 
sin and a shame if those two should become separated, and altogether 
wanton misery for both. Our impression is that they have both erred 
in sacrificing themselves and each other to an altogether mistaken 
sense of obligation to other people. It is quite clear to me that Bertrand 
is going through some kind of tragedy of feeling; what is happening 
to her I suppose I shall discover in the next three or four weeks. It is 
the wantonness of this unhappiness which appals me; saddens and 
irritates both of us. 

Bertrand Russell’s nature is pathetic in its subtle absoluteness: faith 
in an absolute logic, absolute ethic, absolute beauty, and all of the most 
refined and rarefied type — his abstract and revolutionary methods of 
thought and the uncompromising way in which he applies these 
frightens me for his future, and the future of those who love him or 
whom he loves. Compromise, mitigation, mixed motive, phases of 
health of body and mind, qualified statements, uncertain feelings, all 
seem unknown to him. A proposition must be true or false; a character 
good or bad; a person loving or unloving, truth-speaking or lying. And 
this last year he has grown up quite suddenly from an intellectual boy 
into a masterful man, struggling painfully with his own nature and 
rival notions of duty and obligation. His hatred of giving pain and his 
self-control will, I think, save him from the disaster of doing what he 
would feel afterwards to have been wrong. But it is always painful to 
stand by and watch a struggle one cannot help. The background of life 
here has, therefore, not been happy — especially for me, as I have had 
time and opportunity to observe and brood over it. Sidney, though most 
anxious and willing to give a helping hand (even to the extent of letting 
me leave him for three weeks!), is somewhat impatient with this quite 
unnecessary pain. However, the problems of human relationship have 
a way of unravelling themselves when those concerned are .intelligent, 
warm-hearted and healthy in body and mind. The first thing to be 
done is to get Alys well. I am myself looking forward to the complete 
change and rest. My cure is not complete; I still suffer from eczema 
in one of my ears, due I believe to my greedy persistence in drinking 
coffee which I believe is rank poison to me. Also my recent attempts 
to companionise Bertrand so as to keep him here (which I believe to 
,be Alys’s desire) have meant more mental exertion than is consistent 
with regular work. And I have not always been quite faithful to the 
regimen; now and again a naughty greedy feeling overtakes me at a 
meal and I exceed! But I am improving in that respect; keep always 
before me the scale and the weights. I wanted, having spent yesterday 


243 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 
in packing, to get back to the book, but I cannot stand the knocking 
and cleaning going on in the house — so off I go into the woods with 
Mrs. Warren's Profession — just sent me by G. B. S. 

July 1902. Friday's Hill . — ^The last days of our stay — Sidney in 
London and I packing up our MSS. and blue-books preparatory to the 
advent of a large party of Berensens, etc. 

I have worked well, but with small result in actual stuff written. 
Of the eight weeks we have been here nearly two were spent on the 
University article, counting proof-correcting, and another two in read- 
ing through and analysing the whole of the Poor Law Commission 
evidence of 1833-34. Another week has been more or less spent in 
entertaining and resting, so that not more than a fortnight has been 
actually consumed in writing. But what I have done is to get the whole 
poor law section planned out and about half-written, as well as the 
general scheme of Part II. of the book conceived, so that now the 
work will go straight forward. Sidney has only been able to write out 
(he always elucidates and completes my rough draft) what I have done, 
spending only one or two days a week down here. It has been a broken 
time for him, absorbed in University and T.E.B. committees, con- 
sultations, redrafting of Garnett’s and Hewins’s reports, writing memo- 
randa for Haldane on university matters, for Conservative M.P.’s 
and Bishops on “ The New Education Authority for London ”, and 
keeping our eye on the Fabian Society and the Liberal League, 
altogether a somewhat distracted life. But he is very happy in his 
activity, feels ways opening out before him of getting at least some 
things done in the direction he believes right. Sometimes he is weary 
and longs to retire to “ a cottage ” with me and “ write books ”, but 
more often he is happily active — unconscious of anything but his desire 
to transact the business in hand, successfully. He has a delightful unself- 
conscious nature: he has (thank the Lord!) no “ subconscious self”: 
when not at vvork, or asleep, or talking, he reads — reads— -reads — 
always ready for a kiss or a loving word, given or taken, “ I am 
frightened at my own happiness ”, he often says. 

fuly 2ir?.-— Mr. Haldane came to lunch with us yesterday. He 
has been immersed in vvriting his Gifford lectures and was absorbed 
by his peculiar and personal vision of the “ Absolute He is still keen 
on the University and full of energy and hopefulness. But much 
depressed about politics; does not evidently trust Rosebery. Thinks, 
the Conservatives are going to pieces; that the leaders would even like 
to be defeated and retire for a year or two; that C.B. would grasp at 
office on any terms, and that it would end in the fresh discredit of 
Liberalism with the “Limps” forced into the position of Liberal 


244 


TRADES UNION CONGRESS 




Unionists. If asked, Rosebery might accept a coalition with the 
younger Tories and leave his lieutenants in the lurch and the Liberals 
in a discredited opposition. For the present he is chiefly concerned to 
prevent the defeat of the Education Bill and came to consult Sidney 
about it. Sidney advised a demonstration in the Nineteenth Century of 
educationalists in favour of the Bill, to strengthen Balfour’s hand, and 
again to urge the inclusion of London. Sidney has to write a memo- 
randum on London situation to go tlirough Hugh Cecil to Balfour. 

Attended one or two meetings of the Trades Union Congress and 
had delegates to tea for three days. Dominant note of the Congress is 
determination to run Labour candidates on a large scale, and faith in 
the efficacy of this device for gaining all they require. The notion is to 
have Labour men in the field in a number of constituencies before the 
Liberal candidate is selected. There is no leadership in the Congress; 
little respect of one man more than another; but a certain unanimity 
of opinion among the delegates; less cleavage between trade and ti-ade, 
or between Old and New Unionists than in any Congress I have 
before attended. Practically the Congress has been captured (as far as 
its formal expression of opinion is concerned) by the I.L.P. We find 
ourselves quite out of harmony with it collectively, though on cordial 
and confidential terms with many of the delegates. 

Odd letter from Rosebery. I sent him a card for my trade union 
teas, more to let him know what we were doing than expecting him 
to come. Foolish of him not to have responded to the request from the 
trade unionists for an entertainment at his house. He needs strengthen- 
ing on the democratic side, and it would have cost him so little ! The 
half-heartedness of these leaders to their work of leadership annoys us. 
If it is worth our while at great inconvenience and expense to us — 
we who have nothing to gain politically — ^liow much more is it their 
game. Asquith, too, with a house at St. Albans within one hour of 
London, cannot bestir himself to come up for one day for the Congress, 
let alone entertain the delegates in his empty house in Cavendish 
Square. He, too, with the memory of Featherstone to wipe out! Why 
play the game at all if you mean to play so carelessly, and with so little 
enjoyment of the process or concern for the result? 

October i\th . — All our Radical friends bitter or sullen with us over 
Sidney’s support of the Education Bill. Certainly, if he had political 
ambitions, it would have been a suicidal policy on his part. Fortunately, 
we enjoy the incomparable luxury of freedom from all care for our- 
selves. W e are secure in our love for one another and we are absolutely 
content with our present daily life, as far as our own interest and 
happiness is concerned. Well we may be! I have a constant wonder 
whether we are earning our excellent maintenance. Sidney certainly 


2+5 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

does, assuming that his work is in the right direction, for he is at it 
from nine o’clock in the morning continuously until 7.30, and once 
or twice a week lectures in the evening as well. For myself, I peg 
along every morning at the book for three or four hours, sometimes 
putting in half-an-hour in the afternoon. But, generally, I find it pays 
better to do nothing in the afternoons except take exercise, especially 
as almost every day we have someone to lunch or to dine to talk shop. 
We have had the whole professoriate of the School (25) to dinner in 
detachments, and a selection of the students in afterwards. As president 
of the [Students’] Union, I am trying to develop the social side of the 
School and have arranged to be “ At Home ” to students on alternate 
Wednesdays next term. 

November 10th . — ^The School has opened with eclat. There are 
now actually at work five hundred students and the staff is hard put 
to it to meet the new strains. The railway companies have at last come 
into it with a determination to make use of the lectui’ing both as an 
educational training and as a test of capacity of their staff of clerks. 
For the last three years the Great Western Railway has sent some 
thirty or forty and paid their fees, but the attendances have been per- 
functory and usually tailed off towards the end of the term. This year 
Wilkinson (Great Northern) [?] took the matter up with vigour: 
selected groups of courses for each clerk, sent an inspector to see that 
they attended and to listen to the lectures, required shorthand notes of 
tlie lectures to be submitted to him, and gave it out that he would read 
the three best essays contributed by his staff submitted to him by the 
Director of the School. The writer of the best essay, an unnoticed 
clerk in a minor department, has been promoted to the general 
manager’s office. The Great Northern general manager, at the 
instigation of Lord Rosebery (who is said to talk of “ our School ” at 
the meetings of the directors), has had a long talk with Hewins, and 
arranged to send a contingent to the classes and to require them to 
pass examinations before being promoted. If this precedent be followed 
by other business undertakings and by public bodies, we shall have 
done a good deal to promote efficiency in administration. Hewins, of 
course, is a little bit over-confident and elated, but that is his tempera- 
ment. He inspires confidence in men of affairs and has, in fact, more 
the business than the academic mind; though sufficiently intellectual 
to state concrete facts in terms of general principles. His weak point 
is lack of accuracy and rapidity in the despatch of business; he is slovenly 
in such matters as proof-correcting and dilatory in getting certain 
things done. But there is usually method in his carelessness, and things 
left undone or mistaken are usually matters about which his judge- 
ment has been over-ruled or to which his aims are slightly different 
246 - 


SCIENCE AND EDUCATION 

from those of the governors. His carelessness is, in fact, instinctively 
selective if not intentionally so. It is aggravating because he always 
agrees to do the job. 

But he and Sidney, and to a lesser extent I myself, make a good 
working trio. The whole internal organisation of the School is left 
to him with suggestions from Sidney; the whole financial side is in 
Sidney’s hands, whilst my domain has been roping in influential sup- 
porters from among old friends and connections. Every Tuesday 
Hewins lunches here and we discuss the affairs of the School in all its 
aspects; he consults Sidney about the curriculum; Sidney tells him the 
requirements for securing L.C.C., Technical Education Board and 
University support, I submit to both my little schemes for entertaining 
various persons likely to be useful. Almost every week since early in 
October we have had dinners of eight to ten — lecturers and governors, 
likely friends and supportei’s, and students to lunch. . . . The rest of 
our social life, which is both lively and interesting, is deliberately 
designed to help forward the University, the Progressive Party on the 
L.C.C., and to a slight extent to give Haldane and his friends a friendly 
lift whenever an opportunity comes that way. The Liberal League, 
notably Haldane and Rosebery, have been good friends to us, and we 
feel bound to return in kind. 

Haldane and Sidney are constantly co-operating in educational 
matters. Haldane has taken a bold line in supporting the Government 
Bill (Education) and breaking from his political friends. His position 
as a party politician was so damaged before that I doubt whether it has 
been much worsened. Undoubtedly, if Rosebery goes under and the 
Campbell-Bannerman lot romp in, Haldane is pretty well done for, 
unless they should be desperately short of men. On the other hand, 
he has improved his status as a leader of opinion, lias shown that he 
knows and is keen about the higher branches of education. And the 
higher branches of education are one of the coming questions. It seems 
likely that the beginning of the twentieth century will be noted as the 
starting point of the new form of university training and university 
research — the application of the scientific method to the facts of daily 
life, politics and business. In this movement, Haldane will have played 
one of the principal though unseen parts. His career is interesting as 
combining that of a considerable lawyer, an education reformer and 
an intriguing politician (though the intrigues are always to promote 
a cause, never to push himself). It is a paradox that a mind that 
is essentially metaphysical, laying stress on the non-material side of 
human thought and feeling, should have been, as a matter of fact, 
chiefly engaged in promoting applied physical science. 

Rosebery is not making way in tlie country and is, I imagine, having 


247 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

a bad time with himself. He has no grip of anything except appear- 
ances. He is so intent on trying to find out which course will appear 
right to the ordinary man of affairs, that he forgets altogether to think 
out whicii course will work out best in social results. He seems 
positively frightened at the thought of any such enquiry. Publicly and 
privately Sidney has pressed on the Liberal League the necessity of its 
leaders making up their minds as to what they would do if they had 
the power. Rosebery and Haldane hang back — they do not want to be 
committed. “ Quite so,” says Sidney; “ don’t publish anything or 
decide on any course, but let us at least have the facts at our command 
and know all the alternative courses.” He is, however, a voice in the 
wilderness. 

November i^th . — I took the Prime Minister [Arthur Balfour] in 
to dinner! I say “ took ” because he was so obviously delivered over 
into my hands by my kindly hostess who wished me to make as much 
use as possible of the i J hours he had free from the House. It was a 
little party of eight at the house of the charming Mrs. Horner — High 
Priestess of the ” Souls ”, in their palmy days, now somewhat elderly and 
faded but gracious to those she accepts as distinguished. The other 
diners were Lady Elcho and Haldane, Mr. Horner and a handsome 
daughter. 

Balfour has the charm of genuine modesty and unselfconsciousness, 
and that evening he seemed in earnest about education. Pie is delight- 
fully responsive intellectually — a man with an ever open mind— too 
open, perhaps, seeing that on no question has it been sufficiently closed 
by study and thought to have developed principles. There comes a time 
in life when surely the mind should be made up conclusively as to 
the particular questions with which it is mainly concerned; man’s work 
in life is action and not enquiry? Balfour’s intellect has not the organic 
quality; there is no determinate result from the combination of his 
reason with his knowledge of facts. His opinions shift uneasily from 
side to side; the one permanent bias being in favour of personal refine- 
ment of thought and feeling. But I doubt whether he has any clear 
notion of how he would attempt to bring about this refinement in other 
people, except by personal example and influence. On the other hand, 
he has no bias in favour of laisser-faire. Action or inaction are open 
questions, and it is a chapter of accidents on which side he throws 
himself. But he intends to work on the side which at the moment he 
thinks right - — not merely on the side that will appear right to other 
people: — which I fear is Lord Rosebery’s predicament. All this elaborate 
analysis based on one hour! 

I set myself to amuse and interest him, but seized every opportunity 
to insinuate sound doctrine and information as to the position of 
248 


LONDON SOCIETY 


London education. Sidney says I managed skilfully, but then he is a 
partial judge! We found ourselves in accord on most questions. Perhaps 
that is only another way of saying that Arthur Balfour is a sympathetic 
and attractive person who easily tunes his conversation to the other 
minds. I can understand how colleagues in the House of Commons 
forgive his incapacity for transacting business; the flavour of his 
personality is delightful. 

Three dinners and two evening parties at one’s house in eight days 
is severe! But it seemed desirable to give a Conservative— L.C.C. dinner 
and a London University reception; and also a “ Limp ” dinner, and 
a “ Limp ” reception. Then there was a dinner to Lady Elcho to 
acknowledge her kindness to us in Gloucestershire and our introduction 
to Balfour; an introduction which may have good results. So I asked 
her to meet John Burns, the Shaws, H. G. Wells and Asquith. John 
Burns took the palm; his unselfconscious exuberance, dramatic faculty 
and warmth of feeling amounted to brilliancy; he gave us vivid pictures 
of prison and other episodes; views on the army; Eton and the aristo- 
cracy; on working-class and middle-class life; all fresh and interesting 
with a certain romantic sentiment for what was ancient and dis- 
tinguished. Shaw and Wells were not at their ease — G. B. S. was 
jerkily egotistical and paradoxical, though he behaved well in en- 
couraging Burns to take the stage; Wells was rather silent; when he 
spoke he tried hard to be clever — ^he never let himself go, Asquith was 
simply dull. He is disheartened with politics, has no feeling of in- 
dependent initiative, and is baffled by Rosebery, snubs and is snubbed 
by C. B. He has worked himself into aii unreal opposition to the 
Education Bill. He is not really convinced of the iniquity or unwisdom 
of the Bill he is denouncing. He eats and drinks too much and lives 
in a too enervating social atmosphere to have either strenuousness or 
spontaneity. Clearly he is looking to the money-making Bar for his 
occupation in life. As a lawyer he is essentially common quality; no 
interest in, or understanding of, legal principles; no ingenuity or 
originality in making new influences or adapting old rules to new 
conditions. However, he is under no delusion about himself; he has 
resigned himself to missing leadership. 

The dinner was successful and thrilling to Lady Elcho, enjoying 
the new sensation of meeting such strange forms of distinction as 
Burns, Wells, Shaw at the house of the Sidney Webbs. 

The “ education ” and “ Moderate ” dinner consisted of Sir Alfred 
Lyall and wife, Sir Owen Roberts (clerk to the Clothworkers and aji 
excellent friend of ours) and wife, Sir John Dickson Poynder (L.C.C. 
Moderate and Conservative M.P., a simple-hearted, public-spirited 
country gentleman of attractive mien); Sir Lacy Robinson (L.C.C. 


H9 


THE UNIFICATION OF LONDON EDUCATION 

Moderate, former civil servant and a new governor of School of 
Economics), Mrs. J. R. Green, Beatrice Chamberlain and Charles 
Booth (whom I happened to meet in the street the day before). After 
dinner, we had some 30 or 40 of the educationists and University men- 
folk — Sir John Gorst and some eight L.C.C. Moderates. They all 
knew each other, or wanted to know each other, so that talk was 
incessant. 

Finally, we had one “ Limp ” dinner yesterday — Sir E. Grey, 
Haldane, B. Russell, Wilberforce and Wiles (two L.C.C. Progress- 
ives), Harben (a promising young Liberal Leaguer), Isaac Mitchell 
(one of the ablest of the younger trade union officials) and Perry (the 
most influential of the university medicals and a Liberal Progressive). 
Lion Phillimore — the one lady to keep me company. In the evening 
some sixty men came in — trade union officials, L.C.C. Progressives, 
journalists and “ Limp ” M.P.’s. I introduced vigorously and they all 
chatted and chattered sometimes in confidential tite-ii-tHes, sometimes 
in groups. Haldane, who had dined with us, chaffed me about the 
resurrection of tlie “ Souls ” in Grosvenor Road. 

The interest of the evening to me was a long talk during dinner 
with Sir Edward Grey. Like Balfour he is a man of exquisite flavour; 
he is high-minded, simple, kindly and wise, witlrout being able or 
clever — an ideal element in a Cabinet containing some strong master- 
mind. Bui he is not the master-mind'. I doubt whether it would be 
physically or mentally possible for him to work eight hours a day, for, 
say, ten months of the year; he has neither the knowledge, the depth 
of feeling, nor the personal grip on life, to have a strong will or deeply- 
rooted convictions. His temperament is an exquisite poise — far above 
human passions and human prejudices — in an atmosphere rarefied by 
public spirit, fastidious honour and widely diffused human fellowship, 
essentially a passive and receptive nature, revelling in the beauties of 
nature, the interest of books, and the charm of one or two intimate 
friendships with men and women of like character in simple and 
refined surroundings. 

The last entry in the diary of 190a forecasts the leading 
preoccupation of the Other One during the following three 
years, 1 903-5, signalised in the following chapter. 

December 1902. — Morant dined here last night iilone to talk over 
chances of London Education Bill. Wearied out with the autumn 
campaign and the prospect of having to superintend the working out 
of the new Education Act with a rotten staff and a hostile minority 
in each district determined to wreck the Act. He says that Balfour is 
furious with the Church, and the Church disconsolate with its bargain; 

250 


LONDON EDUCATION BILL 
Londonderry a bull in a china shop, and Anson too academically 
clever to be a comfortable fifth wheel in the coach. He had drafted a 
Bill for London of two clauses applying the Act. “ Quite satisfactory 
to you ”, he observed. But alas! Walter Long, elated with his triumph 

over the constitution of the Water Board, says “ he will be d d 

before he sees the L.C.C. the education authority ”. Morant doubts 
whether anyone wants any particular change sufficiently to get dis- 
cordant views into line — the Church hesitates as to the worth-while 
of it, the Unionist members are terrified at the N.U.T., on the one 
hand, and the Tory political worker, on the other; no member of 
the Cabinet is keen to enhance the dignity of the L.C.C., though 
all except Long realise that the borough councils would be imposs- 
ible. But Long is a loud-voiced persistent creature, who talks his 
colleagues down at Cabinet and committee meetings and is in touch 
with the commoner kind of obscurant Tory. So matters look dark 
and the present unsatisfactory situation is likely to persist, at least 
for the forthcoming year. 


CHAPTER VI 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT 
AND AFTER 
1903-1905 

The passage of the London Education Act of 1903 proved 
to be a landmark in Our Partnership: a successful achieve- 
ment which entailed some consequences that were un- 
pleasant. Without the broad base of universal compulsory 
elementary education, including within its ambit the de- 
nominational schools, the whole under the control of the 
London County Council, the unification of London educa- 
tion would have been both incomplete and unsubstantial. 
But this drastic reform involved not only the supersession 
of the ad hoc school board, but also “ putting Rome on the 
rates ”, not to mention also the Anglican established Church 
schools abhorred by the more fanatical Nonconformists. 
Hence, Sidney Webb’s support of the Education Act of 
1902, which abolished all school boards and handed over 
not only the board schools with their undenominational 
Christianity (subject to a conscience clause) but also the 
denominational schools. Catholic, Anglican and Wesleyan, 
to the provincial county councils and county borough 
councils, nearly all of them Conservative outside the metro- 
polis, had already offended both the orthodox Liberals and 
the powerful Nonconformist element in the nascent Labour 
Party. And this contradiction of orthodox Liberalism seemed 
even more offensive when applied to the metropolis. Here, 
at any rate, the Conservative Party was divided in its policy, 
and there might be some hope of keeping the School Board 
as the education authority. Gradually the Progressive Party 
realised that the Conservative Cabinet was being encouraged 
by a leading member of the party to go forward with the 
abolition of the London School Board, with the important 
252 


LONDON EDUCATION AUTHORITY 
qualification that the London County Council was to be 
substituted for the indirectly elected federation of metro- 
politan borough councils which had been the original Con- 
servative proposal. This willingness to accept the placing of 
denominational schools on the rates, and thus give them a 
position of permanence in the British educational system, 
seemed to be all the more objectionable seeing that the 
Webbs were known not to belong to any Christian denomina- 
tion, Protestant or Roman Catholic, but to be nothing better 
than agnostics. 

How did we come to take up this position.? We realised 
the strength of the common British objection to making the 
taxpayer maintain the teaching of a religion in which he 
did not believe, and which he often regarded as damnably 
injurious both to his children and to the community. But, 
rightly or wrongly, we were convinced that, at that time and 
probably for many years afterwards, there was no alterna- 
tive way of securing for every child throughout the kingdom, 
irrespective of class or creed, the maximum duration and 
efficiency of educational facilities that the House of Commons 
could be induced to afford. 

What were the alternative ways of solving this difficult 
problem of creating a universal compulsory system of ele- 
mentary education, paid for out of rates and taxes, and 
administered by a public authority, without offending the 
conscience of parents or teachers.? I may note in passing that, 
in the early years of the twentieth century, it was only rival 
religious creeds, concerned with man’s relation to the 
universe and with life after death, which raised questions of 
conscience. It was at that time never suggested, as is the 
case in many countries to-day, that the child should be taught 
deliberately to prefer one political constitution or economic 
system rather than another. This absence of conscientious 
objection was in the main due to a general agreement among 
contemporary educationalists that political and economic 
problems were not fit subjects for children of school age. 
But it was also a sign that there was no practical objection 
among the inhabitants of Great Britain to the status quo^ as 

.. . ■ ■,■■253 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
represented in the school text-books, historical or geo- 
graphical, which were used in the course of education. 

So far as we knew there were three or four solutions 
actually practised in the Anglo-Saxon world. In England, 
part of the curriculum in all rate-supported schools included 
the teaching of undenominational Christianity — whatever 
that may mean — ^with a conscience clause for teachers and 
the children of conscientious objectors, the persons con- 
cerned being absolved from taking part in these particular 
classes. Outside the publicly supported and administered 
schools, there were the denominational schools which were 
aided by Government grants, though not by the rates. There 
was no provision from public funds for those parents or 
teachers who objected to the faith in the miraculous em- 
bodied in all Christian sects. In Scotland, on the other hand, 
where only two Christian sects were recognised, the Presby- 
terian and the Roman Catholic, the custom was that the 
head master should belong to the same denomination as the 
majority of the children, and the assistant master should 
represent the other recognised sect of Christians. In that way 
Presbyterian and Roman Catholic children alike had the 
specific religious dogmas in which their parents believed as 
part of their training. 

In most of the states of the U.S.A. the schools were 
secular, and there was no provision of any kind for Catholics 
or Evangelicals, who desired that their children should be 
brought up in a religious faith. Hence, one or two million 
children were being brought up outside the state school 
system, mostly in Roman Catholic schools, without any 
public provision and with no public inspection, the result 
being, as we had discovered in our recenftour in the U.S.A., 
that both teachers and schools were disastrously below 
any decent standard of efficiency. The same principle was 
pursued in New Zealand and in some of the states of 
Australia: in its most rigid form in Victoria. In the Victoria 
of the ’nineties the Roman Catholics had succeeded, whilst 
maintaining their own schools, in preventing the publicly 
supported schools from teaching any history (which they 

254 


RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 


asserted must be partial either to the Protestant or to the 
Roman Catholic religion), or reciting any poetry in which 
God was mentioned. When, for instance, Wordsworth’s 
“ Ode to Immortality ” was objected to on the ground that 
it mentioned the Deity, the Minister of Education tele- 
graphed: “ Insert ‘ the Gods ’ On the other hand, one of 
the American states insisted on “ fundamentalist ” Christian 
doctrine, and would not permit the teaching of biological 
science, because research into the evolution of life contra- 
dicted the Old Testament story of the creation of the world 
with all the living creatures it contains in six days, with God 
resting on the seventh, surveying with complacency the 
result of his creativeness. 

What was proposed in the Acts of 190a and 1903, apply- 
ing to England and Wales only, was that all schools which 
provided elementary education up to a certain standard 
should come on the rates, and be controlled by the public 
authority; but that such of them as had been provided by 
a religious denomination should be permitted to choose 
teachers of their own creed provided that they were efficient 
in secular subjects, and that, subject to a conscience clause, 
there should be religious teaching according to the creed 
of the denominational school. This solution seemed to us, 
in the then state of public opinion., the most likely to be accepted 
and loyally carried out while maximising the efficiency and 
duration of the educational opportunities for the mass of the 
children of the United Kingdcm.^^ 

* It is a curious reflection that this unwillingness or inability to give religious 
instruction is far more common in council schools than in the avowedly denomina- 
tional schools, where the teachers are chosen because they belong to the Roman 
Catholic or Anglican churches. This reluctance, on the part of teachers, leaves the 
child’s mind in a state of bewilderment, leading in many cases to cynical indifference 
or hypocritical make-believe. The question arises: what is the alternative? It seems 
impracticable to teach a child how to behave — an important part of education — 
without some sincerely held scale of ethical values arising out of some definite con- 
ception of man’s relation to man, and man’s relation to the universe. Have we, in 
Great Britain, yet developed any genuine science of ethics arising out of observation, 
generalisation and verification, and based on a sincerely held vision of man’s destiny? 
In the middle of the nineteenth century Auguste Comte and his followers believed 
that they had invented a religion of humanity, for which they actually started 
churches with rites and sermons. But this Comtist sect, though induding some dis- 
tinguished minds, petered out, perhaps because it was mixed up with economic and 
political speculations which failed to gain acceptance. In the past decade the USSR 

■ ',255 ■ : 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 


1903 

The narrative of oiir daily life, exckidiftg bur researches 
into English local government which have already been de- 
scribed in Chapter IV, will be found in the following entries 
in niy diary, whether these relate to the administrative 
activities and the manipulation of jpublic opinion by the 
Other One, or to our intercourse with relatives, friends and 
fellow-workers. To these I have added a few criticisms Of 
books and my own reS'ections on the destiny of man and his 
instinctive reaction to the unknown or the unknowable. I do 
this, not because these casual notes have any value in them- 
selves, but merely because they indicate a conflict in nly 
mind between a conscientious desire to be strictly rational- 
istic, and an instinctive longing for some sanction other 
than scientific reasoning, for believing in the eternal worth- 
Whileness of human life. For it was to this latent “ reli- 
giosity ” in one of the partners that sOrne critics attributed 
our dubious association with Anglican bishops and Catholic 
priests, hot to mention Conservative politicians and civil 
Servants, in OUr 'pursuit of the educational policy embodied 
in the London Education Act of 1903. 

January Hbth. Overstrand.-^'F or the first time for many years the 
three old friends — Sidney, Bernard Shaw and Graham Wallas— spent 
a week together with their wives as chorus — ^the Shaws at the big 
hotel nearby and the Wallases with us. Three delightful evenings we 
spent listening to G. B. S. reading his new work — -Man and Super- 
Man. To me it seems a great work; quite the biggest thing he has done. 
He has found his form: a plky which is not a playj but only a combina- 
tion of essay, treatise, interlude, lyric — all the different forms illustrat- 
ing the satne central idea,, as a sonata manifests a scheme of melody 
and harmony. I was all the more delighted with it, as I had not been 
impressed with the bits I had heard before, and Sidney had reported 
unfavourably of the play itself. Possibly, the unexpectedness of the 
success has made me over-valtie it— -a reaction from a current in my 
mind of depreciation of G, B. S. Then l am so genuinely delighted at 

thinks it has evolved In its political and economic structure, and its steadfast pursuit 
of science, in all its applications to social life, not only a fresh code of conduct, but 
also a new vision of man's future. 

256 


S. W. EDITS THE “DAILY MAIL’’ 


his choice of subject. We cannot touch the subject of human breeding 
— it is not ripe for the mere industry of induction, and yet I realise 
that it is the most important of all questions, this breeding of the right 
sort of man. G. B. S.’s audacious genius can reach out to it. 

Graham was somewhat depressed, physically and mentally; and, 
though affectionate and pleasant to us, he has a deeply-rooted suspicion 
that Sidney is playing false with regard to religious education. He 
wants all religious teaching abolished. As Sidney is not himself a 
“ religionist ”, Graham thinks that he too should wish it swept away. 
Politically, this seems to Sidney impossible, whilst I do not desire it 
even if it were possible. So between us we are prepared for a working 
agreement with the mammon of ecclesiasticism. Poor dear Wallas 
consequently sees this working agreement writ large in every act of 
the T.E.B., however irrelevant it may be to the religious issue (an 
issue which appears to Sidney to intervene as only a minute part of 
public education). Whether the T.E.B. takes action or omits to take 
action on any question there is always in Graham’s eyes the priest- 
behind the policy. This suspicion makes frank co-operation between 
Sidney and our old friend impossible — and though personal relations 
remain affectionate and appreciative, I fear there must be some official 
friction if not actual hostility. As Sidney’s side is bound to win, though 
possibly Sidney himself will be sacrificed, it is to be hoped that Graham 
will retire from educational administration. He tried to talk G. B. S. 
round to his view, but failed. G. B. S. is too rootedly sceptical about 
all alternative philosophies to be inclined to oust Christianity hy force 
majeure. 

Meanwhile, we fear we shall lose on the question of the authority 
for London education. Inspired by Haldane the Times came down on 
our side and Sidney is seeing the Daily Mail. But the political Con- 
servative is dead against the L.C.C. for London. . . . Moreover, the 
official opposition has declared in favour of an ad hoc body. The 
Progressives on the L.C.C. have not liked to claim education as their 
province; they have only been frightened by Sidney with the bogey 
of the borough council into holding their official tongue! 

February ist . — Sidney hard at work making public opinion as to 
the education authority. He interviewed Harmsworth and his “ boy ” 
editors, and the former handed over the direction of the campaign in 
the Daily Mail to Sidney.^ He has seen Buckle of the Times and 

■ S. W. says (in 1937) that what he remembers is that, almost despairing of in- 
ducing the Cabinet to give London education to the L.C.C., he wrote at a venture 
to Harmsworth, whom he had never met, stating that he happened to know that 
the draft Bill proposed to entrust London education to a body formed by indirect 
election, like the old Metropolitan Board of Works. He said that he was convinced 


257 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

Lawson of the Telegraph and Spencer Wilkinson of the Morning Post. 
He is stimulating the Church and educationalists generally to put 
pressure on Balfour. Haldane reports that it is still undecided, Walter 
Long holding out for a borough educational authority — or at any rate 
a majority of borough councillors on the L.C.C. committee. Pro- 
gressives of L.C.C. sulky: some jealous of Sidney, others conscientiously 
opposed to any compromise with regard to Church schools. If L.C.C. 
finds itself the authority, it will be, I believe, entirely due to Sidney — 
to the excellent reputation of the T.E.B. under his guidance, and to his 
persistent efforts to stir up public opinion in favour of the L.C.C. But 
all this means Sidney’s distraction from the book. And as it also entails 
a good deal of entertaining, it is a serious drain on my energy. However, 
the aim is worth the labour. From the standpoint of the book the worst 
is that, if we succeed, it will result in a big, difficult and continuous 
task for Sidney. All the more reason for me to keep in the highest 
degree of efficiency. Abstemiousness of body and calmness of mind 
the one way. . . . 

Read through Haldane’s Pathway to Reality on the journey to and 
fro — out of friendship for the author. To me his metaphysic seems an 
attempt to “ intellectualise ” the emotional assertion of a “ beyond ” 
which is bound to fail. What is called “ verification ” is impossible; 
there is no conceivable external test of the truth of your thought, and 
therefore no way of convincing those who do not think the same 
thought as you. If you are conscious of a great reality, this consciousness 
may be as valid as any other part of your consciousness? But its validity 
remains your own secret, not communicable to those who are not 
already in possession of it. Possibly, by attempting to put it into words, 
you rouse in other minds the knowledge that they do possess the secret 
somewhere — ^in the recesses of their souls — but for this purpose the 
emotional assertion of poetry and piety seem to me more effective than 
ratiocination. However, there are minds, who can only accept the 

that thi.s would be disastrous for education, and what was more, he was sure that 
the London Conservative M.P.’s would not stand it. Hence the Government would 
have to give way; and why should not the Daily Mail have the credit of making the 
Government give way? To his intense surprise and delight, Harmsworth answered 
at once, asking him to call on Monday at 4.30 P.M. He was ushered in and found 
Hai-msworth looking amazingly youthful, seated in conference with four still more 
boyish-looking assistant editors. Harmsworth asked several sharp questions, and 
then said, “ Very well, Mr. Webb, we’ll do it. But we don’t know anything about 
the subject. You must come in every night at ii P.M. for a week, and see that we 
say everything just right.” Needless to say, S. W. jumped at the chance, and for a 
week sat with Thomas Marlowe, who was then the chief acting editor, and corrected 
the reports and paragraphs on London education. “ I never revealed to anyone ”, 
he laughingly said, years afterwards, “ that one of my experiences had been to edit 
the Daily Mail for a week.” How much this episode contributed to the formation 
of opinion on the Conservative side of the House of Commons no one can compute. 

258 


PATHWAY TO REALITY 

assertion when clothed in the form, of a syllogism; and it is to these 
minds that metaphysics, I imagine, appeal. You must feel the need for 
this assertion, and you must have an intense predilection for reasoning 
and then you will find salvation in metaphysics. Emily Bronte’s “ Last 
Lines ” are to me more convincing than the Pathway to Reality. 

“ There is not room for death. 

Nor atom that his might could render void. 

Thou, thou art Being and Breath, 

And what thou art may never be destroyed.” 

February 2^th . — A succession of dinners over the Education Bill, 
mostly Conservative and Church. Among our guests the Bishop of 
Stepney,’ a remarkable man, who will go far. He is Creighton, without 
either his defects or his finest qualities; but, for that very reason, far 
more effective as an ecclesiastical statesman. The new kind of ecclesiastic 
with his eye on the new social classes, intent on winning for the Church 
democratic support. An Erastian in doctrine, anxious to see the 39 
Articles and all other inconveniently obsolete documents regarded 
simply as formulae of historical interest, but not binding on the con- 
science. The Dean of Westminster, a scholar and mystic, is more 
attractive to me but not nearly so efficient.^ 

Met Sir William Anson at C. A. Cripps’ (our brother-in-law has 
come out as an L.C.C. man), a pleasant subtle-minded don, a perfect 
head to a college, but singularly out of place in an administrative 
position.3 Far more interested in discussing the relation of the Privy 
Council to the local authorities of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries than the proper authority for dealing to-day with London’s 
education. Indeed, one felt he knew so little of the elements of the 
latter subject, that it was barely worth while talking to him. Still it is 
desirable to have him not “ agin us ” and he must be asked to dinner. 
The interests of the School and the University and the smooth working 
of the L.C.C. have all to be considered in our little entertainments. 
Meanwhile, we try to get a morning’s work, however perfunctory, 
at the book. We often long for that cottage in the country and the 
peaceful existence of a student life. We sometimes wonder whether 
such an existence would not be, in the long run, more useful. But 
then someone must do the rough and tumble work of government. It 
is a tiresome fact that to get things done in what one considers the best 
way, entails so much — to speak plainly — of intrigue. There is no such 
thing as spontaneous public opinion; it all has to be manufactured from 

‘ Cosmo Gordon Lang, * Dr, Joseph Armitage Robinson, 

» Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education; M.P. for Oxford 
University. 


259 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

a centre of conviction and energy radiating through persons, sometimes 
losing itself in an unsympathetic medium, at other times gaining 
additional force in such an agent as the Bishop of Stepney, or the Daily 
Mail. Of course, there is always the element of “ sport ” in this life 
of agitation: watching the ideas one starts (like, for instance, “ the 
dominance of the National Union of Teachers over the borough 
councils ”) wending their ways through all sorts of places and turning 
up quite unexpectedly as allies in overthrowing counter interests and 
arguments. It is fortunate when one happens to believe in one’s own 
arguments: one always does so in a fashion, the most one does is to 
suppress the qualification. Is that “ debasing the currency ” or is it 
permissible to accept the position of an advocate to tell the truth but 
not the whole truth? As a matter of fact, with regard to administrative 
work, we plunge without hesitation on to the position of an advocate 
pledged only to display the arguments which tell in favour of the cause 
we believe in. In our scientific work, however, we honestly seek to tell 
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; a distinction in 
standards which puzzles and perplexes me. . . . 

March — The L.C.C. Progressives, or some of them, are 

playing the fool about the London education authority. So determined 
are they to “ spite the Government ” and so anxious for a good battle 
cry, that they are steering straight into a “ Water Board ” authority 
for education. A little clique headed by J. R. MacDonald and fighting 
all they know how Sidney’s influence on the T.E.B.; some of the 
weaker of the rank and file,, somewhat jealous of Sidney, are playing 
into their hands. Sidney thought it better to offer himself to the Pro- 
gressive cause for election as chairman of the T.E.B. this year, in 
order to facilitate negotiations with the Government, but has given it 
to be understood that he does not wish to be chairman except with the 
full consent of the Progressive membei-s of the Board. J. R. MacDonald 
has set to work to detach them from him and has succeeded with the 
Labour men (who are secularist, ad hoc, and anti-higher education) and 
one or two other middle-class members who are ambitious to be chair- 
men themselves. It remains to be seen whether he carries the caucus 
to-morrow. Sidney has refrained from canvassing and stood on his 
dignity — we both thought that, if the L.C.C. Progressives deserted 
him, it would be better to play for a “ reaction ” in his favour by having 
an inferior man elected chairman, under whom the Board would chafe. 
Of course, these dissensions will injure the chances of the Bill being 
on the right lines, as it will be open to the Moderates to say to the 
Government, that the one good man ready to carry out the Act has 
been rejected by his own party. It is strange that these personal 
enemies don’t see that Sidney’s position will be immensely stronger on 

260 


SLUMP IN WEBBS 


a mixed board of borough councillors, L.C.C. and outsiders, than on a 
genuine L.C.C. committee, and that if he were playing for his own 
dominance he would go straight for that. Meanwhile, it will be a big 
misfortune for democratic government, even of the kind they believe 
most in, if the L.C.C. is put on one side as unfit to be the education 
authority. 

I have been pondering over the question whether I could have done 
anything to stop the “ slump in Webbs ” on the Progressive side. Of 
course, our attention has been absorbed in getting hold of forces in the 
enemy’s camp, and our frequent coming and going has excited sus- 
picion in our own. They have not the wit to see that, if a Government 
is in power with an overwhelming majority, it is no use fighting it — 
at least not unless the other way has proved unavailing. Whetlier or 
not he is elected chairman to-morrow, I shall turn my attention 
seriously to the Progressive members of the T.E.B. when we come 
back from Longfords, and see what can be done to counteract J. R. 
MacDonald’s machinations. I have suggested that whatever happens 
Sidney adopts an attitude of beneficent helpfulness. In only one 
eventuality would he fight the Progressive caucus — that is if J. R. 
MacDonald got himself nominated for chairman. In that case Sidney 
would propose Dr. Leaf, or failing him stand himself. But J. R. 
MacDonald is too shrewd to try that little game. 

The complaint against Sidney resolves itself into this: (i) he is “ in ” 
with the Government; {%) he might sacrifice the interests of primary 
to secondary and university education; (3} he ignores the “ religious ” 
difficulty and is willing to be impartial between Anglican and “ un- 
denominational ” Christianity. Numbers (i) and (3) are true in essence; 
(2) is not true, at least in our most impartial moments we believe not. 
We don’t believe you can raise the standard of elementary education 
and save it from mere mechanical efficiency unless you have the 
university in organic connection with it — unless you have mobility 
between al! classes of teachers from the assistant master of the present 
elementary school to the research professor. The same with the 
students: the university must be open to them in fact as well as in 
theory. It lacks imagination to think that elementary education can be 
stimulating and progressive except as the broad base to the higher 
learning. Those who feel themselves specifically'the representatives of 
Labour, fail through lack of ambition for their own clients and, be it 
added, through self-coniplacency with themselves as ideal reformers of 
society. 

March 1 5^A. — The “ slump ” in Webbs proves to be serious: Sidney 
was defeated by only four to ffiree in a little caucus of Progressives on 
the T.E.B. But then, the others had not troubled to turn up, or had 
261 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
stayed away purposely, which means indifference if not hostility. The 
Board, after a little spluttering, acquiesced in the election of Shepheard 
and Leon, both ad hoc anti-voluntary school men, but not personally 
hostile to Sidney. There are indications, too, that this feeling of 
antagonism is not confined to this little group — the rank and file of 
the Progressives do not want the L.C.C. to be the authority and they 
think Sidney with his press and back-stair influence is bringing it about. 
The Crooks ” election has swelled the Progressive head, and they feel 
inclined to fight for an ad hoc body and unsectarian education. The 
position has been worsened by an indiscretion of Dr. Garnett, the able 
secretary of the T.E.B. (which would not have occurred if Sidney 
had been chairman!), in circulating a memorandum in favour of a 
definite scheme of L.C.C. administration. Everyone believed Sidney 
to have had a hand in it. 

But tliere is a very real cleavage between our views and those of 
the rank-and-file Radicals, and I do not see my way honestly to bridge 
it. We are not in favour of ousting religion from the collective life of 
the state; we are not in favour of the cruder form of democracy. And 
we do believe in expenditure on services which will benefit other 
classes besides the working-class, and which will open the way to 
working-men to become fit to govern, not simply to represent their 
own class; and we are in favour of economy as well as expenditure. 
But then what is the good of having means of one’s own and some 
intelligence, unless one is prepared to advocate what is unpopular? 

March 27/A. — Matters not much mended. Hubbard, an honest 
Nonconformist rank-and-file member of the L.C.C., had put down a 
resolution in favour of ad hoc authority some weeks ago. McKinnon 
Wood and Collins, both in their hearts anxious for the L.C.C. 
authority as unifying London government, called a party meeting to 
try and get a decision against bringing the question up before the 
Government produced their Bill. With great skill Collins succeeded 
in getting the party to vote thirty to twenty on non-committal resolu- 
tions in favour of a directly elected body, understood to mean the 
L.C.C., but blaming the Government for attacking school boards and 
subsidising voluntary schools; and, by an overwhelming majority, for 
adjourning Hubbard’s resolution. Meanwhile, the Government, scared 
by electoral results at bye-elections at Woolwich and Rye, took fright. 
Morant wrote begging Sidney to let him know the result of the meet- 
ing. Londonderry’s private secretary came down to ask for permission 
to attend, witli shorthand writer, the L.C.C. debate, so that the Cabinet 
might have a correct and complete version of the L.C.C. views. Last 

' William Crooks, L.C.C., won a notable bye-election for Woolwich in 
262 


1903. 


LONDON EDUCATION BILL 

Tuesday the Council, as a whole, prevented the taking of Hubbard’s 
resolution by talking at length on other matters. Sidney went at 
Haldane’s request to see Sandars (the confidential private secretary to 
the Prime Minister) and the Conservative Whip, and to encourage 
them to introduce the L.C.C. Bill. But to-day we learn in confidence 
that the Cabinet yesterday decided that it would not introduce their 
Bill giving the L.C.C. the whole of education and complete control of 
its committee unless they could, by this means, secure the support of 
the L.C.C. Progressives. Failing this, it is to be the status quo and the 
settlement of London education left over to some future Government. 
Now it remains to be seen whether the official leaders of the Pro- 
gressives are willing and able to get Hubbard’s resolution negatived. 
Sidney does not believe that they can carry the rank and file with them, 
even if they plank themselves down on the policy of L.C.C. authority. 

Haldane tells us that the rot has set in severely within the Cabinet. 
They are panic-stricken — all except Joe (Chamberlain) who holds 
himself somewhat detached from the rest and lets them stew in their 
juice of muddle and mistake. They have been so shaken by Woolwich 
and Rye, and the rising tide of Nonconformism (N.U.T. agitation in 
London), that they were actually considering the making of an ad hoc 
authority for London — a complete capitulation. However, they were 
shaken out of that by Sidney’s assertion that not only would Dr. 
Clifford and Macnamara dominate such an authority, but it would 
light up the flame throughout the country against the 1902 Act, and 
encourage a persistent refusal to accept the Act by all sorts and con- 
ditions of malcontents. So they were prepared to throw themselves 
into the arms of the L.C.C., if they had been able, by so doing, to get 
a rest from virulent opposition. The L.C.C. has not been able to rise 
to the emergency. Possibly it has proved that it would not be equal to 
running the concern. The success of the T.E.B. is largely owing to 
the fact that Sidney removed it from the first out of the practical control 
of the L.C.C. But he lost consent in gaining efficiency. 

Gave my presidential address to the Students’ Union, which cost a 
good four days to prepare, on the relative function of the investigator, 
the man of affairs and the idealist. The upshot of the analysis was that 
the investigator or scientific man has to discover the process by which 
a given end can be obtained within a given subject-matter. This means 
specialisation and all the patient methods of observation, generalisation 
and verification. The man of affairs has to select the processes, to 
adapt and adjust them in order to bring about a “ state of affairs ”. 
This entails a knowledge of and capacity to control men, and perception 
of general ends, which would be actually obtained by the dovetailing 
of the processes of the various sciences. But neither the investigator 

263 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
nor the man of affairs could act, unless there was a conception of an 
end or purpose to be attained. This was given by the idealist. Where 
did he discover his ideals? Not in science, seeing that science can give 
processes and processes only. Not in affairs: that meant opportunism. 
In metaphysics or in religion? In choice of ideals within our own inner 
consciousness, or perhaps in communion with a higher and nobler life 
than that of common humanity? 

April yd. — Listened from the Speaker’s Gallery to (Sir William) 
Anson introducing the London Education Bill. Met with cold recep- 
tion. Opposition jeering and supporters gloomily silent. An inept 
speech. As it stands the Bill is a bad one, though rather than the 
status quo or an ad hoc authority we would accept it as it stands. But 
it is clear to us that the borough council representatives on the central 
committee have been stuck in to be knocked out, and that the control 
of the L.C.C. over the local administration of elementary education 
will be indefinitely strengthened in committee of the House. If our 
prophecy be proved correct, the Bill is much what Sidney would have 
himself drafted, except that he would have defined in the Bill the 
outside element to be co-opted by the L.C.C. committee and not left 
it to the free will of the L.C.C. But this may be unduly distrustful of 
his Progressive colleagues! But, of course, the Bill as it stands has been 
received by every section of Progressives with contemptuous dis- 
approval — almost delight, because it is considered so bad that it will 
not pass. Hewins and Pease have, however, been so indoctrinated by 
Sidney that they are almost enthusiastic about the present draft. Sidney 
goes up to-day to a meeting of the parliamentary committee of the 
L.C.C. to reconnoitre the position and see how far he can modify the 
outburst of L.C.C. disapproval. 

April ic)th. — L.C.C. Progressives rapidly coming round to notion 
of L.C.C. being the authority — the natural desire of a public body to 
increase its dignity and power overcoming the party feeling in favour 
oi&n ad hoc authority. Clear also that Government intend to give way 
if pressed. All the Conservative Party organs on our side agree as to 
strengthening of the L.C.C. position, though they differ about borough 
representative on the central committee, and the powers of the borough 
local committee. Looks as if Sidney would get his way ail along the 
line even with regard to the constitution of the education committee. 

June lyh. Aston Magna, Gloucestershire. — We left London seven- 
teen days ago, tired out but with the restful consciousness that our 
plans had come off. The School gets its grant of i lOO from the T.E.B. 
renewed without opposition, J. R. MacDonald not being there. The 
Education Bill passed through committee the day before we left, in 
264 


LONDON EDUCATION AUTHORITY 
almost exactly the shape Sidney would have given to it; the L.C.C. 
absolutely supreme, the borough councils relegated to the quite sub- 
ordinate part of selecting the majority of the local managers; but these 
latter having no more power than the L.C.C. choose to give them. In 
fact, the Bill endows the L.C.C. with rather more freedom of action 
than Sidney would have suggested as the ideal arrangement: he would 
have preferred a statutory constitution for the education committee, 
instead of leaving it open to the L.C.C. [as to co-option of] other 
outside interests. It was very easy to get the L.C.C. ten years ago to 
appoint a reasonably broad committee for technical education — when 
none of the Council were interested in the matter. It is another thing 
to persuade the Progressives, with their enormous majority and strong 
Nonconformist element, to be fair and sane about the outside interests. 
Hence, our anxiety is now passed from Parliament to the L.C.C, 
itself. So long as we can get the present Council to consent to frame a 
scheme under the Act, and so long as the scheme is not outrageously 
one-sided, that is as much as we can do. The working of the Act will 
be a matter for the 1904 Council. We are concerned now to see to it 
that this Council has the right complexion. The whole controversy 
between the Progressives and Moderates is stale and has lost its signifi- 
cance. TLe Progressives, beyond sticking to some old shibboleths, have 
lost all impetus to further action. The Works Department, the old 
symbol of collectivism, is a mere device for keeping the contractors in 
order; the taking over of the tramways has been accomplished in 
principle, if not in fact; but water is lost to the L.C.C., at any rate 
for the next decade or two, and with regard to asylums, to housing, to 
sanitary and building bye-laws committee, the work of the Council 
has become mere routine. In fact, it is asserted by some, that the old 
gang who ran the administrative departments have become cautious 
and economical to the last degree. On the other hand, while the 
Council has lost the impetus to do constructive work, it has accreted a 
good deal of destructive radicalism of the old type. Some thirty membere 
of the Progressive Party are standing for Parliament, and owing to the 
latter-day developments they are, many of tliem, likely to get in. This 
will increase the disinclination of the Progressive leaders to a vigorous 
municipal policy, and identify them more completely than ever with 
parliamentary Liberalism. And all these general considerations have 
been enormously heightened by the raging controversy over the Educa- 
tion Bill. Inthis,theoldnihilisticspiritofthe i843-i87oNonconformist 
who deliberately preferred na education to the teaching of a rival dogma, 
is rampant. A powerful rump of L.C.C. Progressives imagine them- 
selves to be in favour of education, with a big E, but at best it is only 
primary education of the most mechanical and uniform type that they 

265 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
want to promote. Behind them, and working with them, are two other 
more sinister forces — the Labour men who want no money spent on 
secondary or university education, and the N.U.T. who want all 
appointments — secondary as well as elementary — to fall into the hands 
of the superior elementary school teachers. 

Meanwhile, the Moderate Party has become even more stale than 
the Progressives. Beaten down and divided by their last crushing 
defeat, they no longer have any heart for their work of opposition. 
Moreover, there is nothing for the most moderate of the Moderates 
to oppose in the thoroughly businesslike cautious and economical ways 
of the Progressive administrators. Just as the Progressives have per- 
meated the Moderates with all that was immediately practicable in 
their schemes, so the Moderates have permeated the Progressives and 
forced them to adopt economical and businesslike methods. This 
mutual permeation is exactly what is accomplished by the English 
system of committees, in which party cleavages are lost sight of, 
the actual outcome being always a compromise — in a good body the 
“ better reason ” of both parties. All this, from the point of view of 
efficiency, is very encouraging but, when both sides feel that they have 
got a good deal of what they wanted and have persuaded themselves to 
give up the remainder, the spirit both of reform and of criticism is apt 
to go dead. 

Now it is a question which Sidney and I have been mooting between 
ourselves, whether out of these elements we can produce a new party — 
formally or informally held together by a broad catholic and pro- 
gressive educational policy. The planks would be (i) fairness to the 
voluntary schools, complete freedom for them to teach their religious 
doctrine in their own wayj (2) unsectarianism in the board schools — 
these latter constituting, broadly speaking, the supply for the Non- 
conformist and secularist children — ^and, as regards all kinds of ele- 
mentary teaching, thorough efficiency in staff and structure; (3) 
development of secondary and technical education on the present lines 
of independent governing bodies aided and inspected by the L.C.C. 
and kept up to the mark on their educational side; but completely 
free to be as denominational or anti-denominational as the governing 
body chose. And, last but not least, a great London University — 
independent of L.C.C. but subsidised and influenced by it — not only 
a leading university organised on a democratic basis, but a great centre 
of the highest and most useful science, scholarship and metaphysics. 

Meanwhile, our own little schemes have been submerged, even in 
our own minds, by the new ferment introduced by Chamberlain into 
imperial politics. Protection wrrwr free trade is going to supersede all 
other political issues for many years to come. From the public point of 

266 


TARIFF REFORM 


view, we do not regi'et the advent of the new ferment. Here again 
controversies between parties had got stale. This issue at least will 
force people to think, will force them to consider new facts, and to 
apply new assumptions. The absurd notion that the “ natural ” 
channels of trade are necessarily the best will be quickly given up; the 
notion that “ cheapness ” is the only aim in a nation’s commerce will 
also be demolished; the need for investigation and the desirability of 
deliberate collective regulation will be enormously advertised. All this 
is to the good and makes towards economic science, and, we think, 
collectivism of the best soj't. To Joe’s specific proposals — a tax on 
food and eventually “ protection all round ”, we are, as at present 
advised, opposed, as politically impracticable, unnecessarily costly to 
the consumer and likely to lead to international friction and internal 
uncertainty. We do not agree, however, with the extreme hostility to 
these proposals; our trade depends on quite other considerations than 
tariffs or no tariffs. But we think Chamberlain’s aim, the Empire as a 
unit, could be better and more cheaply and conveniently attained by 
other devices. Sidney, at present, inclines towards bounties on colonial 
imports as a likely compromise between the British consumer, the 
British manufacturer and the colonial producer. Viewed from the 
standpoint of our own little projects, the diversion of public interest 
from the educational controversy to the tariffs is wholly to the good. 
It will require, however, careful steering to prevent the School of 
Economics from being indiscreetly identified with either side. Hewins, 
somewhat impetuously, has decided to throw in his weight with 
Chamberlain; this will mean that Sidney must be, as he fortunately is, 
against the new proposals. All he will do is to get the Fabian Society 
at work to prepare the ground for some intermediate plan combining 
imperialism with sound national economy. 

Just before leaving London Sidney was appointed on the small 
expert Royal Commission to enquire into trade union law.' This was 
our friend Haldane’s doing — made easy by Mr. Balfour’s kindly view 

' This small Royal Commission, presided over by Graham Murray, afterwai'ds 
Lord Dunedin, proved a fiasco. The Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union 
Congress, hurt at not having been invited to nominate one of themselves as a member 
of the Commission, and rightly regarding it as a political device for staving off a 
difficult problem, resolved to boycott it, and to prevent any trade unionist from 
giving evidence. This did not matter much, as the problem was dealt with entirely 
as one of law. As the Conservative Cabinet did not want any immediate decision, 
or indeed any report at all until after the general election, the Commission went to 
sleep for a couple of years, and eventually (in 1906) ihade a unanimous report, with 
a lengthy reservation signed by me only. The Liberal Government brought in a 
Bill on the lines of the report; but the trade unions had utilised the general election 
to get most of the M.P.’s to commit themselves simply to a reversal of the Taff Vale 
judgement, which the Government was compelled to adopt, — a too sweeping legalisa- 
tion which led, in after years, to an inconvenient reaction. [S. W.] 

267 



THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
of us. The job is eminently one for him to do, and will have the 
incidental advantage of bringing us again into communication with 
the trade union world. Sidney’s relation with the Labour men of the 
L.C.C. having been strained by J. R. MacDonald’s ill service, it is all 
the more necessary to be on good terms with other sections. The 
parliamentary committee of the Trades Union Congress has never 
forgiven us our scathing description of them and their doings in 
Industrial Democracy. With John Burns we are very friendly; but this 
IS only because he is jealous of Macnamara and Crooks, and has an 
old grudge against MacDonald. Next spring we shall resume our inter- 
course with the Co-operators in preparation for an official history of 
the movement. 

July 8f/i . — Fagged with combination of work and entertaining. 
Before the “ Charlottenburg ” scheme * was launched, we spent our- 
selves, money and energy, in tuning the press and trying to keep the 
Progressives straight. But, of course, they unconsciously resent having 
situations “ prepared ” out of which there is only one way — i.e. ours! 
But there is so little statesmanship in the party that it is only by an 
elaborate preparation of the ground that they can be induced to take 
up the right position. Latterly I have been sampling the Progressive 
members — they are not much to be proud of — a good deal of rotten 
stuff; the rest upright and reasonable but coarse-grained in intellect 
and character. Even the best of them are a good deal below the 
standard of our intimate associates — such as Hewins, Mackinder, 
Haldane, Russell, etc., and the ordinary Progressive member is either 
a bounder, a narrow-minded fanatic, or a mere piece of putty upon 
which any strong mind can make an impression, to be effaced by the 
next influence — or rather the texture is more like gutta-percha, because 
it bounds back to the old shapeless mass of prejudice directly you take 

» S. W. writes (1937): Wliat was called, for short, “ Charlottenburg ”, needs 
explanation. Haldane, in his enthusiasm for German scientific education, had been 
immensely impressed by the success of the great technical Hochschule at Char- 
lottenburg, near Berlin, to which Great Britain had nothing similar. Meanwhile Sir 
Julius Wernher (of Wernher, Beit & Co.), a South African millionaire who had 
bought a large estate and settled in England, was prepared to give a large sum to 
promote technical education of the highest degree. Haldane induced the Govern- 
ment to hand over the Royal College of Science and the School of Mines; and the 
City Companies to transfer the City and Guilds Institute which they had founded 
at South Kensington, to form, with the half-a-million which Wernher was to 
contiibute, what we called, in intimate discussion, “ Charlottenburg ” but which 
eventually became the Imperial Technical Institute, now a constituent college of 
the reformed London University. It was part of the scheme that the London County 
Council, through its Technical Education Board, should contribute £20,000 a year 
to create additional professorships and equip laboratories, etc. All this took years 
to arrange, including a lengthy enquiry by a Departmental Committee, on which 
I sat, before the various complications were smoothed out. 

268 


WINSTON CHURCHILL 

your will away. It is very tiring for poor Sidney and he comes back 
from the L.C.C. or T.E.B. meeting exhausted though usually victori- 
ous, always so when he has had time to prepare the ground — when he 
does this the enemy usually don’t turn up or collapse immediately and 
his trouble seems thrown away. 

Hewins has complicated matters of the L.C.C. and School by his 
vehement adhesion to Chamberlainism; not only “ letting out ” his 
authorship of the Times articles, but resigning sensationally from the 
National Liberal Club. Fortunately the articles have been ineffective 
— but the fact of his partisanship makes our position more difficult 
and has necessitated Sidney flying the free trade flag. He would have 
preferred to keep quiet and not to take part, but that is impossible in 
view of Hewins’ and G. B. S.’s indiscretions. Meanwhile, we struggle 
on in a lame way every morning j for three days I have been off with 
strained eyes — strained not with work but with dissipation of strength 
at four dinners last week. My diet saves me from worse ills than mere 
fatigue. Unfortunately, I don’t always stick to my regimen — specially 
when I am bored. 

Went into dinner with Winston Churchill. First impression; rest- 
less — almost intolerably so, without capacity for sustained and un- 
exciting labour — egotistical, bumptious, shallow-minded and re- 
actionary, but with a certain personal magnetism, great pluck and 
some originality — not of intellect but of character. More of the 
American speculator than the English aristocrat. Talked exclusively 
about himself and his electioneering plans — wanted me to tell him of 
someone who would get up statistics for him. “ I never do any brain- 
work that anyone else can do for me ” — an axiom which shows 
organising but not thinking capacity. Replete with dodges for winning 
Oldham against the Labour and Liberal candidates. But I daresay he 
has a better side — which the ordinary cheap cynicism of his position 
and career covers up to a casual dinner acquaintance. Bound to be 
unpopular — too unpleasant a flavour with his restless, self-regarding 
personality, and lack of moral or intellectual refinement. His political 
tack is economy: the sort of essence of aimoderate; he is at heart a little 
Englander. Looks to haute finance to keep the peace — for that reason 
objects to a self-contained Empire as he thinks it would destroy this 
cosmopolitan capitalism — the cosmopolitan financier being the pro- 
fessional peacemaker of the modern world, and to his mind the acme 
of civilisation. His bugbears are Labour, N.U.T. and expenditure on 
elementary education or on the social services. Defines the higher 
education as the opportunity for the “ brainy man ” to come to the 
top. No notion of scientific research, philosophy, literature or art: still 
less of religion. But his pluck, courage, resourcefulness and great 

afig 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
tradition may carry him far unless he knocks himself to pieces like his 
father.! 

July 2i^ih . — One sometimes wonders whether all this manipulating 
activity is worth while: whether one would not do almost as much by 
cutting the whole business of human intercourse and devoting oneself 
to thinking and writing out one’s thoughts. It would certainly be far 
pleasanter, because a far less complicated life, with fewer liabilities for 
contraventions against personal dignity, veracity and kindliness. It is 
so easy to maintain these qualities in a vacuum ! In rubbing up against 
others, one’s vanity, one’s self-will and any strain of spite gets un- 
covered and revealed in all their ugliness to oneself, one’s friends and 
one’s opponents. But someone has to do this practical work: and possibly 
it is just as well that it should be done by those who have the other 
life to withdraw into, so as to keep up their standard of thought and 
feeling. That disgust with oneself which always follows a time of 
turmoil — the consciousness tliat one has lamentably fallen short in 
dignity, gentleness, consideration for other people’s lives and feelings, 
and in transparent truthfulness', is a wholesome reminder of one’s own 
radical shortcomings. If one frankly realises one’s own moral in- 
capacity during spells of activity, it makes one more careful not to 
admit unworthy desires and thoughts in the times of withdrawal from 
the world — and the whole level of one’s mental life is raised and 
supported by the wholesome fear of the eternal fall of the man of 
action. From an intellectual standpoint it is good, too, because one is 
constantly testing one’s hypotheses by the course of events; proving 
whether a given social process does, as a matter of fact, bring about a 
given social result. Nevertheless, it is with a sigh of relief that we look 
forward to some months of restful intellectual work before the hubbub 
of next spring, and if Sidney is turned out of London administration, 
the lot will bring its compensations. It would be a mental luxury to 
give the whole of our joint strength to the completion of our big task, 
especially if we felt that we had fought hard and were in no way 
responsible, by carelessness, for affairs taking the wrong turn — that we 
had not resigned the heavier and more disagreeable work but had been 
dismissed as “ not wanted ” by the people of London. 

Our season ended with a brilliant little dinner here to meet Mr. 
Balfour. Naturally enough I talked almost exclusively at dinner to the 
guest of the evening. A man of extraordinary grace of mind and body 
— delighting in all that is beautiful and distinguished — ^music, literature, 
philosophy, religious feeling and moral disinterestedness — -aloof from 

I This hasty estimate -was reconsidered -when W. C. became a Cabinet Minister 
in the Liberal Government, 1906-15 ;in that administration he -was one of the 
ablest and most progressive. 


270 


ARTHUR BALFOUR 

all the greed and grime of common human nature. But a strange 
paradox as Prime Minister of a great Empire! I doubt whether even 
foreign affairs interest him; for all economic and social questions, I 
gather, he has an utter loathing — whilst the machinery of administra- 
tion would seem to him a disagreeable irrelevance. Not a strong 
intellect and deficient in knowledge; but I imagine ambitious in the 
sense that he feels that being Prime Minister completes the picture of 
the really charming man — gives tone to the last touch of colour — 
piquancy to his indifference as to whether he is in or out of office. I 
placed Charles Booth next him — I doubt from his manner whether 
he knew who Charles Booth was — wondered perhaps that a Salvationist 
should be so agreeably unsettled in his opinions! Bright talk with 
paradoxes and subtleties, sentiments and allusions, with the personal 
note emphasised, is what Mr. Balfour likes — and what I tried to give 
him! From 19th-century schools of philosophy to 1 8th-century street 
life, from university to tariff, from Meredith to G. B. S., we flashed 
assertions and rejoinders; and “ Bernard Shaw, the finest man of 
letters of to-day ”, was one of his dicta. But he did not read Mrs. 
Warren's Profession: “ It is one of the unpleasant plays. I never read 
unpleasant things ”, he added apologetically, and looked confirmed in 
his intention when I asserted that it was G. B. S.’s most “ serious 
work ”. “ I am reading Haldane’s Pathway to Reality and should like 
to answer it ; but somehow or other I don’t get any time for philosophy ”, 
he added with a note of graceful surprise. “ I had hoped that the 
tariffs issue would turn us out, but I am beginning to doubt it.” Then 
I explained to him with much benignity the powerful forces of the 
cotton trade and the Co-operative Union which would, I thought, 
bring about his release from office. Haldane and he returned to the 
House soon after lo.o, and I had a pleasant chat with Sir J. Wolfe 
Barry — the engineer. 

fu/y i^th . — Sidney got through the ,^20,000 grant to the “ Char- 
lottenburg ” scheme, having drafted a careful report. Of the leading 
Progressives, some really approved, others dare not refuse Rosebery — 
only eight of the rump actually went into the lobby against it. J. R. M. 
made long and virulent attack on Sidney. “ Mr. Haldane and Mr. 
Sidney Webb had presented a pistol at the head of the Council.” He 
was supported by the Labour men. The farce of Sidney not being the 
chairman of T.E.B., when every agenda or report is obviously drafted 
by him, is becoming glaring and will make J. R. M. more angry than 
ever. Massingham and Macnamara top are trying to work up opposition 
to him in London. But Macnamara, in laying down authoritatively the 
issues upon which the L.C.C. election next March is to be fought, has 
overshot himself and disinclined the Progressive leaders to follow him. 



27.1 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
The I.L.P. is making the Liberals very angry: and in that direction 
J. R. M. will not increase his influence. Meanwhile, the Moderates 
show some signs of working to capture Sidney for their side; and the 
moderate Progressives are beginning to fear they may lose him and are 
inclined to be more on-coming. It looks as if the rump would try to 
turn him out of the party, the Moderates would try to claim him, and 
the centre Progressives make some sacrifices to keep him. So long as he 
keeps his temper and head, and goes on quietly asserting his own 
education policy, his position is a strong one. But it is clear that the 
next election will be a scrimmage and we may go under. What would 
Suit us least well (assuming that Sidney keeps his seat) would be a 
large Nonconformist majority; what would suit us best would be either 
a small Moderate or small Progressive majority — perhaps the former 
best of all. At this juncture the Progressive forces are really against a 
constructive policy or a large expenditure on education — more par- 
ticularly in that direction in which it is most needed' — ^higher education. 
Class, sectarian and professional jealousy leads them to a desire to 
stint education. Labour, Nonconformity and the N.U.T. dislike tlie 
advent of the university professor as part of publicly maintained in- 
struction. 

Our general social policy is to construct a base to society in the 
form of a legally enforced “ minimum standard of life ”, and to 
develop all forms of shooting upwards — whether of individuals or of 
discoveries and refinements. Doubtful which party in the state will 
help us most; protection is all to the bad, so is Nonconformist fanaticism 
— that is to say the positive policy of both Chamberlain and Campbell- 
Bannerman is bad and retrograde; and they are equally indifferent if 
not hostile to our programme. We have, in fact, no party ties. It is 
open to us to use either or bodi parties. 

August %bth.— . . . Meanwhile, we have been entertaining and 
being entertained. We cycled over to the Elchos and spent a couple of 
hours chatting with them and Mr. Balfour and a clever Cambridge 
doctor — the P.M. charming as usual, but absorbed in the state of the 
weather and the chance of getting his golf, also awaiting sadly the 
death of his great-uncle (the Marquess of Salisbury). Then the Playnes 
came for two days, and we took them to see the Ashbees at Campden 
and to a formal lunch at our neighbour’s. Lord Redesdale, afterwards 
spending a tiring afternoon standing about in his pretty gai'dens of 
bamboos. A melancholy household — this handsome, vain and auto- 
cratic elderly gentleman absorbed in his hobbies and somewhat hazard- 
ous enterprises — ^his wife mad at intervals, and usually away, and a 
family of nine young people. The two elder girls simple, attractive, 
but living an isolated and useless life shut up in their great house and 
272 


BISHOP OF WORCESTER 

park, kept too short of money to see life as aristocrats, and too dignified 
to see it as ordinary folk. When we asked them to tea at the home of 
their own tenant, within half-a-mile of their gate, they thought it 
necessary to drive here — a carriage and pair with footman — keeping 
it for two hours awaiting them. And yet clearly not able to go up to 
London for moi'e than a week in the year! 

On Monday, Sidney and I went to dine and sleep at Bishops House, 
Worcester. Dr. Gore, a delightful-natured pious ecclesiastic — without 
guile, with extraordinary fervour and earnestness — a mystic, a re- 
foi-mer, a preacher — ^but with no natural turn for administration or 
Church politics. He is not a wholly satisfactory bishop in the ordinary 
English sense. Refuses utterly to take up his position as a social magnate: 
he has given up his palace (Hartlebury) and settled in a large plain 
villa on the outskirts of Worcester, where he lives, witli three other 
priests, a life of austere work and fervent worship. We found him 
deeply depressed, hating the administrative drudgery of the Bishop’s 
position, not caring for its dignity and feeling how hard it was to be 
a simple missionary when clothed in bishop’s purple. Into this monk’s 
abode Sidney and I broke for one long evening’s talk about the 
Education Bill, and the position of the Church generally. It was a 
strange proceeding — we non-Christians talking with these “ true men 
of God ” as to possible co-operation between them and us in any 
reform of society. When we woke in the morning we heard mass being 
said in the room beneath us, and when we came down to breakfast 
three out of the four were robed sacerdotally. But they were eating 
a hearty breakfast, whereas I was fasting, and I amused myself by 
upsetting their consciences on the simple food question, and the 
desirability of living on six ounces a day. So, in spite of my heterodoxy, 
I left in an odour of personal abstemiousness akin to an odour of 
sanctity! 

On our way home, we picked up Beatrice Chamberlain, who had 
come to discuss the question of London school management. In the 
afternoon, a party assembled itself in our little parlour for tea — Lady 
Elcho bringing Mrs. Pat Campbell (the actress), the Freeman-Mitford 
girls, the Ashbees — a gay and talkative affair developing an antagonism 
between the actress and the economists. This morning Beatrice and I 
wandered over Lord Redesdale’s garden and during the walk she 
formally proposed that I should make the acquaintance of her step- 
mother — she would “ bring her to call ”, etc. Of course, I insisted 
that I should come some Thursday when she returned to London — 
which appeared to relieve the mind of my old friend of a difficult 
negotiation. The next day Lord Redesdale drove us over to see the 
Ashbees’ works, and in the afternoon she left. 


273 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 


October 5th. — A refreshing holiday in Normandy and Brittany — 
lasting the best part of three weeks — first a week with the Bertrand 
Russells, and then two weeks alone together. The Russells we found 
settled in uncomfortable lodgings in a little Normandy village — riding 
and reading together but not serenely happy — a tragic austerity and 
effort in their relations. They are both so good in the best and most 
complete sense, Alys has so much charm and Bertrand so much 
intellect, that it is strange they cannot enjoy light-hearted happiness 
in each other’s love and comradeship — but there is something that 
interferes, and friends can only look on with respect and admiration 
and silent concern. Perhaps, they will grow into a more joyful union; 
certainly, they have the big essential condition — a common faith so 
fai' as personal conduct is concerned. 

We two thoroughly enjoyed our time — ^cycling abroad is a new 
discovery to us — sight-seeing completes each day, and alternating with 
lively exercise rests instead of tiring one. And here we are back in 
London and thoroughly fit for an autumn’s work. 

November ist. — Haldane dined with us alone; gather that events 
are pointing (in that circle) to Asquith as Prime Minister with Rosebery 
serving under him as Foreign Secretary. Our friend was very vague 
as to politics. Not very definite as to the “ Charlottenburg ” scheme, 
which Professor Ramsay is crabbing in all directions, and the low state 
of South African finance making more difficult of attainment. Had 
secured young Lord Lytton to run about for him, and wanted us to 
come and meet him — ^hut that proved impossible. 

November ird. — Dined at the Asquiths’. Lord Hugh Cecil, the 
Lyttons, Sir A. Lyall and the Birrells — our host and hostess most 
gracious; Lord Hugh disappointing — 2. bigot even on fiscal questions, 
dominated entirely by a sort of deductive philosophy from laisser-faire 
principles held as theological dogma; the Lyttons a charming young 
couple with the delightful gracious deference of the well-bred aristocrat; 
Sir Alfred glowing, the Birrells somewhat hack diners out; but on the 
whole a pleasant party gratifying, to one’s social vanity. Margot (Mrs. 
Asquith) certainly has vitality and was full of fervour for the free-trade 
cause and scepticism of all other aspects of the progressive programme 
— told us plentiful gossip about “ Arthur ” and called all the elite of 
high political society by their Christian or pet names. It is a strange 
little clique — in which the bond of union is certainly not common 
conviction or desire for any kind of reform. (I fancy we are admitted 
to it — ^strange to say — ^not as reformers and experts, tut as persons with 
a special kind of chic.) I suggested that why Chamberlain would make 
headway, in spite of his bad arguments, was because he had a vision; 

274 


Gladstone’s life 

desired to bring about a new state of affairs; and was working day and 
night for a cause — that no one else wished anything but a quiet life 
and the status quo. Whereupon Lord Hugh and Margot exclaimed, 
“ Why change the present state of things — ^all was well Whereupon 
I burst out “ That’s all right for you, Lord Hugh — 2. convinced ultra- 
Tory — but is that a possible attitude for the leader of the Liberal 
Party who, one would think, was, or ought to be, ‘ professionally ’ 
aware of the mass of misery, vice and distorted human nature of our 
present state of society? ” But, conscious of the absurdity of indignation 
whilst eating and drinking at the Asquiths’ table, I calmed down and 
tried to make up for my useless and somewhat self-righteous indigna- 
tion. I suppose it is well to be on good terms with these people, but I 
come back from their society to our shabby little home and regular 
hard work with a deep sigh of gratitude that I am an outsider, and 
have not the time nor the energy to become one of them, even if they 
opened wide their doors. Probably the door is kept open because we 
do not try to enter in. 

Alfred Cripps called in splendid form. Very discontented with the 
Archbishop’s attitude towards Education Act. Gave him the names 
of the bitterest opponents of the Act on L.C.C. — the rotten part of 
the Progressive Party which would be best lopped off. Took care not 
to compromise Sidney. 

Reading Gladstone’s Life. Interesting to note that when, after ten 
years’ political experience, he became convinced that the state had to 
be an infidel state, and could not be used to promote religious truth — 
he turned straight away into a laisser-faire democrat holding per- 
sistently to the policy of diminishing the function of government and 
doing nothing but what every individual consented to in advance. 
Hence, his doctrine of nationalities and, in the end, Irish Home Rule. 
Add to this genuine alteration of intellectual creed, the heady emotion 
of feeling himself in accord with crude democracy and, owing to his 
superlative talent as a revivalist preacher, leading it; and you have the 
Gladstone of 1869-80. After 1880, he was out of sympathy with the 
collectivist trend of the newer democracy of town workmen, and 
became a reactionary, appealing pathetically to the Nonconformist 
middle-class in terror of the new creed and hating the new apostles. 
His soul was wrapped up in his own principles— religious and eco- 
nomic — each set in a water-tight compartment; he never realised the 
new order of ideas. Moreover, he was socially an aristocrat and disliked 
the parvenu in riches and political povyer—such as Chamberlain. 

Progressives gained considerably, as I predicted, at [November] 
borough council elections — which will perhaps wake up the Catholics 
and Church to action, and possibly lull the Progressives into confidence 


275 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

for L.C.C. election in March. We shall lie low and say nothing, and 
look after our own constituency. It is vital to London education that 
the Nonconformists should be chastened; if they come back triumphant, 
the outlook will be serious. At present, the L.C.C. Progressives feel 
confident that there will be no turnover, and the Nonconformists are 
playing their game with discretion. 

November i^th . — A strange piece of luck! J. R. MacDonald 
knocked off the register [during his absence abroad] and thus disabled 
from standing for the L.C.C. at the next election — an iniquitous flaw 
in the law, but not for us an ill wind. 

November 26th. — Bryan, the late Democratic candidate for the 
U.S.A. presidency, dined with us last night. A most attractive per- 
sonality, a large bodied and large brained man, with great simplicity 
and directness of nature, a delightful temper and kindly attitude 
towards life. Knew nothing of administration and was, in all the range 
of political and social questions, dominated by abstractions — by words 
and not by things as they actually are. A Jeffersonian democrat like 
Altgeld. But shrewd in his estimate of men and women, and with a 
strong unselfconscious and vivid faculty of speech. 

November 28th . — Kept my pledge against coffee and alcohol for 
the month — treated myself to a cup after lunch to-day, and retake 
the pledge for two months from this evening. I am better without 
either and, though coffee is a temptation, I have practically got over 
the worst part of giving it up and might as well stick to it. Have taken 
cream inadvertently two or three times in the month, but shall avoid 
it in future, without insisting on total abstinence. Should like to get 
into the habit of never taking a mouthful more after I feel that my 
hunger is satisfied. I have reduced myself as a rule to three cigarettes 
a day. Health better than ever before. 

December \st. — 'Mr. Arthur Acland has been in once or twice 
lately to talk over education with Sidney and to arrange for interviewing 
Austen Chamberlain and Morant. We got on to Rosebery — Acland 
not cordial to his leadership; intimated that he had been intolerable as 
head of the Cabinet 1894-5, shy, huffy and giving himself the airs of 
a little German king towards his Ministers. Had neither the equality 
of public-school Englishmen nor the courteous and punctilious 
formality of the well-trained grand seigneur, which is the best sub- 
stitute for it. “ He complained that his colleagues never came to see 
him, but when we did go he had hurried off to the Durdans or to 
Dalmeny. Then after a Cabinet he might ask one of us to come to 
lunch — but of course we had, as busy Ministers, already mapped out 
276 


BETWEEN POLITICAL PARTIES 


our day with deputations and parliamentary work. If we pleaded a 
previous engagement, he would seem offended.” Then he gave us a 
vision of the strange weird ways which Rosebery indulged in at home 
— delighting in surrounding himself with some low fellows and being 
camarades with them — then suddenly requesting one of his free- 
thinking colleagues to go to church with him, or insisting that some 
elderly conventional guest should drive out at lo o’clock at night for 
a couple of hours in an open victoria, with a postillion galloping at high 
speed through the night air. “ Always posing,” was Acland’s summary, 
“ imagining himself to be an extraordinary being with special privileges 
towards the world.” It is odd how that impression exactly corresponds 
to my memory of him on board the Russia^ thirty years ago, and 
with my estimate of his attitude towards us during the last four years. 
For instance — a very considerable amount of pose — fictitious senti- 
ment obviously a source of enjoyment to himself He is certainly 
unique — whether for good or for evil — an asset or an incubus to the 
Progressive Party is a question. 

December bth. — Haldane looked in this afternoon to consult on 
University business. Reproached him half-seriously and half in chaff 
about Rosebery’s attitude. “ If Joe were to take up the notion of a 
national minimum of wages, health and education, and run it alongside 
of preferential duties or a protective tariff, you would be done, Mr. 
Haldane.” “ But Joe won’t do that,” he retorted with a self-complacent 
emphasis, “ he would break up his party if he did.” Obviously the 
Liberal leaders do not seriously want social reform, and would only 
take it up in a practical manner if they were forced to do so by com- 
petition. They are, in fact, relying on the stupid Conservatism which 
they profess to despise and to fight. And I fear our friends the “ Limps ” 
are in this respect the worst sinners. The others have some sort of 
hazy notion that, after pulling down existing structure, they would 
build up something in its stead on the basis of more equal distribution 
of wealth. We cannot join with them because we don’t want to pull 
down the existing structure — all we want is slowly and quietly to 
transform and add to it. So that we remain isolated from all political 
parties, so far as party cries are concerned, though willing and eager to 
work with any party who are consciously or unconsciously engaged in 
constructive work. But it is unpleasant, this perpetual transit from 
camp to camp, however bitterly hostile these camps feel to one another. 
It is perilously near becoming both a spy and a traitor — or rather, 
being considered such by the camp to which we officially belong. No 

’ 1937: Father, Kate and I crossed the Atlantic with him on the Russia, 
Christmas, 1873, and he and I sat opposite each other on either side of the Captain. 



277 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
wonder die Progressives are beginning to feel uncomfortably disposed 
towards Sidney! 

December i%th. — Bertrand Russell published a short article, “ The 
Free Man’s Worship ”, in the Independent Review which throws an 
illuminating light on his character and conduct. In it he adopts, as a 
starting point, the pessimistic hypothesis of the universe — that it is 
“ blind, mechanical, cruel ”, lower than man, that man alone has, by 
accident, attained to morality and intelligence (much the same 
hypothesis as that in MetchnikofFs Nature of Man). Upon this 
hypothesis he bases, by a process of reasoning which it is not easy to 
follow, a fine morality, tender towards others, stoical towards self — 
a morality devised to sustain us in this tragedy of life. The interest of 
the article does not lie in the fine passages on conduct but in his 
betrayal of the purely agnostic attitude, and his deliberate acceptance 
of an hypothesis which cannot be proved to be true by the scientific 
method. This course he has always declared to be immoral in cases in 
which the choice has fallen on the religious hypothesis — hence his 
indignation at William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, or at 
such Hegelians as McTaggart, Haldane, Schiller. I thought he held 
that, as pure reason and scientific verification could not be applied to 
anything but phenomena, it was a betrayal of the integrity of the 
intellect to accept any explanation of the universe as a whole. But it is 
clear that his personal bias towards the tragic in life has made him 
select and dogmatically affirm the most tragic of all the hypotheses of 
the nature of the great “ unknown ” — the one in which man poses as 
the supreme martyr of life — condemned to suffer until extiiiguished 
as an individual or a race. Realising this bias towards the tragic explana- 
tion of the universe, one feels less perturbed at what he conceives to 
be the concrete tragedy of his present life. Tragedy is a pose with him, 
and both the facts of the universe and the facts of matrimony must live 
up to it. As a matter of fact, his marriage is an amazingly fortunate one 
— but if the facts are not such as make up a tragedy so much the worse 
for the facts! Fortunately his splendid morality outweighs his tragic 
propensities and I doubt whether Alys realises that he thinks his 
married life an heroically lived tragedy. 

The Nature of Man, by Metchnikoff — ^a book just now causing 
some sensation — is based on the same pessimistic hypothesis. But it is 
more practical in its deductions: which are to find out “ the secret of 
physical health ”, “ longevity ”, and “ the desire for death, when death 
becomes inevitable And towards the solution he throws out a 
brilliant scientific h3rpothesis — that, owing to bad regimen, we never 
attain physiological old age but always die a violent death, eaten up 
prematurely by our own phagocytes; and, therefore, we object to and 

278 


FREE man’s worship 

resist the process — exactly as a healthy-minded man usually does object 
to violent death. His moral is a simple life — above all things simple food 
and little of it. ... I believe both in his account of what does happen, 
and his suggestion of what would happen if we lived the wisest kind of 
life. But he seems to me to transcend the sphere of the scientific 
method when he asserts that science alone will discover “ the goal of 
human existence ”. The book, of course, is rank materialism of the 
crudest sort, and Metchnikoff would have as little patience with 
Russell’s “ The Free Man’s Worship ” as he would have of Catholic 
Christianity. Indeed, he hints that the teaching of any unverified know- 
ledge should be prohibited like the consumption of poisons. How far 
his own book with its daring excursions into the land of conjecture 
would survive the application of this principle is doubtful? 

December 20 th . — The effect created by the accession of Charles 
Booth to the protectionist ranks proves what power, nowadays, is 
wielded by a non-party expert who is free to throw himself on one 
side or the other, and who is widely known to be personally dis- 
interested, if not, indeed, philanthropic in his ends. Intrinsically, I do 
not attach much importance to C. B.’s opinion on the fiscal question — 
he has no special knowledge, a great deal of prejudice, and by no means 
any marked capacity for intricate reasoning. But for the world at large 
his credentials are 1 7 volumes, a public life of 30 years’ service, and a 
great expenditure of private means for public objects. A platform which 
even a more powerful politician might well envy. Such a position is the 
sort of thing I aim at for Sidney. 


1904 

In December 1903, the Other One published a hand- 
book on London Education which was freely circulated to all 
whom it might concern. In its 200 pages, he foreshadowed 
the establishment of a systematically co-ordinated educa- 
tional system from the infant school to the university, in- 
cluding polytechnics, research institutes and public libraries ; 
and he pleaded for a whole-hearted endeavour to bring this 
new national culture within the reach of every inhabitant 
of the metropolis. Here are a few extracts: 

The new authority [the author declared] is called upon to endow 
Imndon with a complete educational system. To give to each of 
London’s 800,000 children during the years of compulsory school 

■ 279 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

attendance the most effective physical, moral, and intellectual training; 
to develop in them the utmost mental acquisitiveness; to arouse in as 
many as possible of them the indefinable quality that we call resource- 
fulness, initiative, inventiveness, or the capacity for meeting new con- 
ditions by new devices; to provide for the whole of them the widest 
possible opportunities for continuing their studies after leaving the day 
school; to carry on, by a “ capacity-catching ” scholarship system, all 
whose brains make it profitable for the community to equip them with 
more advanced instruction; to organise, as well for these scholarship- 
holders as for all others able to benefit by it, an efficient and duly 
varied system of secondary and university education, whether pre- 
dominantly literary, scientific, artistic, commercial, technological, or 
professional in type; to provide the best possible training for teachers 
of every kind and grade; and so to organise the whole machine, as, 
while increasing knowledge and efficiency, to promote everywhere 
the development of character and culture, and ultimately to encourage 
the highest scholarship and the most advanced research — all this, and 
nothing less than this, is the duty which Parliament has committed 
to the London County Council [pp. lo-iij. 

In a final chapter on The Lion in the Path” he 
visualises the one big obstacle to the vigorous administra- 
tion of the new service. 

But it would be idle to ignore the fact that, at this juncture, there 
are forces at work which may make the carrying-out of any efficient 
policy absolutely impracticable. It is a peculiarity of educational politics 
that, in some countries, at some stages of their development, the clash 
of religious controversy rouses feelings of such intensity that the rival 
partisans would occasionally rather wreck the whole machine, waste 
all the millions of public money, and even let the little children suffer, 
than permit their respective adversaries to gain a seeming triumph. 

JiCeeping strictly to my standpoint as an administrator, I end this little 

( book by a few words with regard to the fundamental conditions without 
which London can have no efficient administration in education or in 
any other public service. 

The first condition of administrative efficiency is the loyal co- 
operation of the whole administrative machine, from the humblest 
official up to the directing committee, in carrying out the purpose for 
which it is framed, and no other. If we consider the extreme case of 
absolute refusal, on the part of a member of the civil service, to execute 
the policy laid down by his official superior, or his setting himself 
^deliberately to thwart it, we see at once that such conduct makes 
280 


THE LION IN THE PATH 


impossible any sort of efficiency. What is not so clearly perceived is I 
the disastrous effect which is produced on the whole administrative! 
machine, when any part of it seeks, not to fulfil the purpose of its 
being, but to twist or contort the law in order to bring about some 
other result. 'Fhis is true no less of the controlling and directing \ 
committee-men than of the officials who serve them. When the law 1 
seeks to effect one result and the administrator another, the whole [ 
service suffers. The knowledge of any such duality permeates to the \ 
minutest ramifications of the organisation. Every officer, however / 
humble his sphere, feels himself entitled to interpret the law and the 1 
administrative policy according to his own predilections, it may be his t 
own conscientious conviction as to what Parliament ought to have j 
decided; it may be, on the other hand, the interpretation which he 
thinks likely to serve his personal interest. This anarchic influence 
will be intensified by the fact that the attempts made by this or that) 
section of the administration to twist or evade the law cannot be openly 
avowed, and must remain (unless they pass into the phase of sheer 1 
rebellion, which is the negation of administration) in the plane of 
suggestion, favouritism, or intrigue. Nor is it only the majority in 
power, or their executive officers, who are demoralised. The members 
in a minority feel that, in addition to being outvoted at the polls, they 
are being outwitted in the committee room, and their resentment of 
this fraud adds acrimony to their enforced submission. They are 
tempted to adopt similarly illegitimate devices of covert obstruction, 
intrigue with officers of their own way of thinking, and illicit con- 
nivance with outside authorities. Thus, in such an atmosphere, whilst 
the salaried staff becomes honeycombed with suspicion, uncertainty, 
and disloyalty, the directing committee itself becomes the scene, not 
of honest working together and mutual enlightenment, but of “ sharp 
practice ” of one sort or another, mutual antagonism and a partisan 
favouritism in promotion which, in its destructive results on adminis- 
trative efficiency, is nearly as bad as pecuniary corruption itself. The 
Lion in the Path of London education is this peril of administrative 
perversion [pp. 196-8J. — ' 

I resume the diary extracts: 

January lytk, 1904. — Seven letters he [S. W.] wrote yesterday to 
editors enclosing his book and turning their minds to an anti-Noncon- 
formist movement — to end in a considerable reduction of the Pro- 
gressive majority, if not in a Moderate victory. If he brings off his 
plan and becomes responsible for the administration of the Act, I shall 
get still less of his time and thought for the book. Fortunately, I keep 
splendidly fit and can work steadily every day — ^but I am deplorably 

281 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
slow in getting over the ground and have to be constantly stopping to 
call for clearer and more copious evidence. 

Except for four dinners of the staff of the School of Economics with 
gatherings of the students afterwards, which I have arranged for 
February and March, I am keeping myself free from social engage- 
ments. It is not the time but the energy I lack — unless I deliberately 
abstract it from my work. In the afternoons I take exercise, ponder 
and read — about twice a week I walk along the Embankment to St. 
Paul’s and listen to the anthem and join in the beautiful liturgy of the 
evening prayer. Sidney’s news, letters and newspapers, an occasional 
friend or student to lunch, now and again a few friends to dinner, or a 
dinner out, are sufficient from the standpoint of the greatest output. 
How any sane mortal with resources of their own and a few intelligent 
friends can exert themselves to get into “ society ” passes my com- 
prehension. And yet I have just expended 21 guineas on an evening 
dress ! I hasten to add that it is four years since I paid the same amount 
for my present evening garment. Still I might have done without it — 
if I had been quite single-minded in my indifference to social glamour. 
The cold-drawn truth is that though I am honestly indifferent as to 
whether or not I see the great world, when I do enter it I like to do 
credit to my reputation — ^an unworthy desire I own — unworthy of an 
ascetic student and a collectivist reformer! 

February %yth. — Sidney and [Robert] Phillimore returned un- 
opposed for Deptford — ^a somewhat striking comment on the threats 
of last summer that “ he shall lose his seat ”. He is now turning his 
attention to getting G. B.,S. in for St. Pancras. What effect G. B. S.’s 
brilliant slashing to the right and the left among h\s> own nominal 
supporters will have, remains to be seen — the party organisers have 
long ago given up the seat as lost. Sidney has written to every clergy- 
man in the St. Pancras constituency (about 2i), sending them a copy 
of his book and imploring them to go hard for Shawj he has even got 
the Bishop of Stepney’s blessing sent to the Rural Dean. He has now 
taken charge of two-thirds of the constituency, installed the Spencers 
[our own secretaries] in a committee room, and called up the whole 
of the Fabian Society on Shaw’s behalf. Whether this effort will win 
what would be a forlorn hope to any other Progressive candidate, and 
will counteract the enemies G. B. S. makes in our own ranks, we 
cannot tell. The Shaws have been good friends to us, and we would 
not like them to have a humiliating defeat. What that erratic genius 
will do, if he gets on the L.C.C., heaven will know some day — but I 
am inclined to think that in the main he will back up Sidney. And he 
will become the enfant terrible of the Progressive Party, and make 
Sidney look wisely conventional. In the Fabian Society, they have 
282 


LIBERAL PARTY 


certainly managed to supplement each other in a curiously effective 
way: — let us hope it will be the same on the L.C.C. But he is not 
likely to get in! 

March ist . — Dined with the Munro Fergusons one day, Haldane 
the next; little parties of “ Limps There is a depression in those 
ranks; within the Liberal Party, the Campbell-Bannerman, [Lord] 
Spencer, Morley crew followed by Reid, Lloyd George, Macnamara, 
are in the ascendant and are asserting their right to make the future 
Cabinet, and include as much or as little of die Roseberyites as they 
choose. Specially against Haldane is there a set; Rosebery, also, is at a 
discount — a heavier discount than he has been since he came back to 
speech-making politics. Partly due to growing discredit of the results 
of the war (Chinese labour!), dislike for expenditure on the forces; 
partly to Rosebery’s disclaimer of social reform and to the quite opposite 
reason — the rehabilitation of lauser-faire by the free trade propaganda. 
Little Englandism, crude democracy, economy, secularism, are all 
again to the front in the official Liberal Party — are, in fact, the only 
actively militant forces with a policy to push. The vacuum over which 
the “ Limps ” have zealously watched cannot be kept intact; and the 
old creed and the old cries are rushing in, in default of better stuff. 

The success of Sidney in wheeling the Progressives round to promise 
the energetic and prompt administration of the Act has been enormously 
helped by the publication of his little book with its extensive and 
detailed constructive programme. It has made it quite impossible for 
anyone to fight him as an obstructive or reactionary as the C. B. 
Liberals are fighting Rosebery and Haldane. Whatever space there is 
in the mind of the enquirer for thoughts about London education, 
Sidney has filled it up — packed one proposal on the top of the other, 
till the question whether or not Anglican or Nonconformist Christianity 
is to be taught for a few hours every week in certain elementary schools 
seems of quite minor importance. 

March ird . — As I sat at home this morning, working at the book 
(Sidney having gone up to G. B. S.’s committee room), three typical 
interruptions occurred. Gomme, the clerk of the L.C.C., came down 
in haste to consult Sidney on new information before the committee 
met this afternoon, as to exact wording of the reference to the education 
committee by the new L.C.C. ; a messenger came with a note from the 
editor of the Daily Mail urgently begging Sidney to write the leader 
telling the citizens of London how to vote on Saturday; and Robert 
Harcourt broke in to beg Sidney’s advice and help to stave off a Labour 
candidate against his brother in Rossendale — ^the latter an altogether 
mistaken estimate of our influence with Labour leaders! But the 
283 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
discreet guidance of important officials, and hidden influence in the 
press, are botli characteristic of Sidney’s peculiar gift for “ getting his 
own way ” without anyone quite realising how. 

Man/i 5//).— Sidney wrote a signed Progressive article for the Daily 
Mail — mildly and impartially Progressive, ending with a puff of 
G. B. S. Now off to work for a more than doubtful result. 

March Jth. — G. B. S. beaten badly; elsewhere the Progressives 
romping back with practically undiminished numbers. As to the first 
event, we are not wholly grieved. G. B. S., with a small majority, 
might have been useful; with an overwhelming one, would simply 
have been compromising. He certainly showed himself hopelessly in- 
tractable during the election: refused to adopt any orthodox devices 
as to address and polling cards, inventing brilliant ones of his own; all 
quite unsuited to any constituency but Fabians or “ Souls ”. Insisted 
that he was an atheist; that, though a teetotaller, he would force every 
citizen to imbibe a quartern of rum to cure any tendency to intoxication ; 
laughed at the Nonconformist conscience; chaffed the Catholics about 
transubstantiation; abused the Liberals, and contemptuously patronised 
the Conservatives — until nearly every section was equally disgruntled. 
His bad side is very prominent at an election — vanity and lack of 
reverence for knowledge or respect for other people’s prejudices; even 
his good qualities — quixotic chivalry to his opponents and cold drawn 
truth, ruthlessly administered, to possible supporters, are magnificent 
but not war. Anyway, we did our best for him, Sidney even puffing 
him outrageously in the Daily Mail — ^and he and Charlotte are duly 
grateful. He will never be selected again by any constituency that 
any wire-puller thinks can be won. 

As for the general result — it is perturbing. The Church and the 
Catholics have apparently exercised no kind of influence — those sent 
to Coventry by the ecclesiastics being apparently no whit the worse. 
The Moderates in many constituencies, deserted by the official Con- 
servatives, have had to bear the full brunt of the Government’s un- 
popularity — they come back as they went out, virtually powerless. Of 
course, the Progressives have vowed to administer the Act impartially 
— -but if they do so they will show real statesmanship and patriotism. 

I confess to a lively admiration for the “ junta ” who have beaten us 
in our underground attack on the size of the Progressive majority. 
For, to be absolutely honest, it was only when he [S. W.] saw that the 
“ game was up ” that he slipped down in the columns of the Daily 
Mail (Sidney would say I exaggerate his disaffection) on the Pro- 
gressive side. Now it is his turn to be a “ good boy ” and be content 
with what’s given him! 


284 


PROGRESSIVE VICTORY 

Y esterday Morant came to dine, and he and Sidney are working to 
get the pedantic Anson to approve the scheme (for the L.C.C. Educa- 
tion Committee) so that the Council may get to work without any 
sense of obstruction from the Education Department. To rebellion in 
Wales and hostile administration in the West Riding, there is no 
reason to add a newly elected and overwhelmingly popular but re- 
calcitrant London County Council. Moreover, co-opted members 
would be futile if forced on the present County Council. 

March nth . — To our delighted surprise the Progressives — so far 
as the leaders are concerned — have returned to Spring Gardens in 
admirable temper, they seem literally chastened by their prosperity. At 
the lengthy party committees that have been held prior to the party 
meeting to-day, they have welcomed Sidney back into their counsels 
with great cordiality — quite disposed now that they see tliat the party 
is safe and sound, to listen to his advice on educational matters. They 
have even gone the length of suggesting that he should be chairman of 
the education committee, though they realise the difficulties; but he 
has decidedly negatived that notion, if anyone else can be found who 
will take the job on and let him work under them. It would be adding 
insult to injury to appoint the executioner as executor or trustee of the 
dead man’s property — an insult which might jeopardise the smooth 
working of the concern. But what is really surprising is the almost 
unanimity with which the party committee has decided not to make 
Lord Stanley an alderman, but only to offer him co-option on the 
committee as a late School Board member — an offer which we know he 
won’t accept. As for Macnamara, there has not been a whisper of 
having him on in any capacity — not even as a co-opted member. 
Meanwhile, within the party committee there has been much more 
trouble on what seems to us to be the unimportant question — whether 
Cornwall or Benn should be chairman of the Council this year — a 
question which seems immaterial since the other will be chairman next 
year! But they are both candidates for London constituencies, and both 
want to run as “ Chairman of the Council ”. The Progressive Party 
would like to pass both over — but there is a strong feeling, which 
Sidney has always upheld — that they have both earned the right, by 
hard administration and party work, to sit in the chair. 

Meanwhile, we have been pulling the strings to get the Govern- 
ment to sanction the scheme, and I think we have succeeded in over- 
coming Anson’s pedantry — Haldane, Cripps, the Bishop of Stepney 
and the Archbishop of Canterbury have been moved to intervene. 
Altogether matters look far more promising than we could have hoped 
with a thumping Progressive majority — it really seems as if Sidney had 
converted his own party by his book, at the infinitesimal cost of not 

285 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
being chairman for the first year, or perhaps not at all — in many ways 
a positive advantage. Going to open an educationist address book of 
persons likely to be useful in that sphere. I must organise our contact 
with them — we must learn the facts ourselves and spread our own ideas. 

March ic)th . — The last week there have been continuous sittings 
of the selection committee of the L.C.C., comprised of the party com- 
mittee of each side plus a few others — a committee nominally elected 
by the L.C.C. at its first sitting but practically selected previously by 
the party whips. This committee is like an American Congress com- 
mittee in that it never meets except formally — the two halves of it, 
Progressive and Moderate, meeting separately to select their respective 
members to serve on all the Council’s committees. Sidney describes the 
Progressive meetings as extraordinarily frank and friendly; the dozen 
select members canvassing, with perfect candour, the qualities of all 
the others and planting them out where they will do most good or 
least harm. Jephson, an old member of the School Board, and new 
member of the L.C.C., who had been put on the selection committee, 
told me that he had never heard such a barefaced “ assessment ” of 
colleagues, and was taken aback at the autocratic manner in which 
the party “ cabinet ” disposed of or dispensed with the services of their 
fellows. Sidney reports great friendliness towards him and anxiety to 
accept his suggestions as to the education committee — Wood and 
Dickinson especially being somewhat remorseful over making Collins 
chairman — a remorse which is strengthened by their jealousy, in the 
political sphere, of Sir William. But, assuming that the latter bears 
out his reputation of letting others do the work and taking all the 
credit, Sidney will think it an excellent bargain— for all he wants is 
to have an outlet for his thought and experience and policy in London 
education — and, if he can get this without creating jealousy and 
hostility, so much the pleasanter and more effectual. Moreover Collins, 
being an able man, with great weight on the Council — liking, more- 
over, ceremonial occasions, will really free Sidney from a good deal of 
work and leave him free to think out the detail of educational adminis- 
tration, or to get on with the book. The disadvantage is that in the 
next weeks of transition the chairman will almost necessarily have to 
decide things off-hand, without consultation, and it is not yet apparent 
whether Collins will be able and willing to make Sidney into a deputy 
or at least a confidential adviser in these crucial new departures. But 
looked at from the point of view of efficiency and consent . , .1 doubt 
whether the party leaders could have handled the matter more wisely 
than they have done. They have secured Sidney’s service without 
raising the hostility which his chairmanship would have caused among 
the rank and file. They have “ placed him out ” in the way in which 
286 


LONDON EDUCATION COMMITTEE 

he will do most good and least harm! Certainly McKinnon Wood 
has shown, within the sphere of municipal administration on party 
lines, real statesmanship, and the party have had the sense to follow 
his leadership both as to policy and as to persons. “ After all, Webb,” 
he said in soothing and confidential tones, “ with the exception of the 
somewhat unimportant matter of the co-opted members, we have done 
exactly what you said we ought to do; which, considering the composi- 
tion of the party and their temper last spring, is more than you were 
justified in expecting.” 

The truth is the Progressives have come back very pleased with 
themselves, having converted themselves in the course of their 
electioneering to the pose they took up, for the purposes of the election, 
of the plain man refusing to be moved by the clamour of Church or 
Chapel — the T urk guarding the Holy Sepulchre of the child’s intellect. 
Moreover, the more they look at the Education Act the more they like 
it, and the less fault they are inclined to find in it even with regard to 
denominational teaching. So Sidney is back in their favour and they 
all turn to him to instruct them in their new duties; not caring to take 
their instructions from the members of the School Board, Nine of the 
leading men among them dined last night at Evan Spicer’s to discuss 
a way out of the religious difficulty, and it is significant that none of 
the school board L.C.C. members were invited. “ The truth is,” said 
Cornwall, “ I see no better solution than the status quo — we must keep 
some denominational schools as a safety valve, else there will be a 
perpetual struggle to get hold of the provided schools. So far as London 
is concerned it is a very good Act!” “Look at Webb smiling”, chaffed 
Williams Benn, tlie new chairman of the L.C.C. and a stalwart 
Nonconformist. 

March tsth . — “The committee has gone adversely”, reported 
Sidney of the first meeting. Collins had insisted on Shepheard being 
elected vice-chairman, and had showed signs of letting everything slide, 
whilst keeping Sidney at arm’s length. His old antagonism to Sidney, 
partly jealousy and partly real disagreement on; university policy — ^a 
matter on which he has been beaten — is rising pretty obviously to the 
surface and may develop into a nasty business. Hitherto, however, 
Collins has never come into the open, we have heard rumours of his 
unfriendliness to the London School of Economics and to the lines of 
Sidney’s educational policy, without this hostility bearing much fruit 
in positive opposition. What is, perhaps, more serious is his disinclina- 
tion to grasp the matter himself, so that it is inevitable that the School 
Board members will, by their superior assiduity and knowledge, capture 
large parts of the organisation and keep on the old tradition. However, 
so long as the new committee keeps its reputation intact as a sane and 
287 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

efficient administrative body^ and no retrogression about higher educa- 
tion takes place, we must be content to mark time ujitil a more 
balanced Council gives the experts a chance. In watching a public 
body it is amusing to note that each success or failure brings about an 
almost immediate reaction — we are now suffering the reaction from 
excluding Lyulph Stanley and Stewart Headlam. Moreover, the rank 
and file of the Progressives, feeling themselves in the majority, but at 
the same time face to face with an extremely complicated business 
which they don’t understand, are suffering from a fear of being 
“ bossed At first it was Stanley, yesterday it was Webb, to-morrow 
it is as likely as not they will react against the School Board members. 
Middle-class demos is very sensitive as to its equality in capacity for 
administrative work, even compared with the most experienced expert. 
At the finance committee a few days ago, when Lord Welby (the chair- 
man) turned to consult Sidney on an important item in the education 
estimates, the worthy but stupid Leon burst out into a hot protest. 
“ The matter has not yet been discussed by the education committee, 
I don’t see that Mr. Webb can have any opinion as to what should be 
done.” But, as the question had to be settled. Lord Welby quietly 
accepted Sidney’s proposals, and passed on to other business. 

I tell Sidney he had better sit back in his chair and take it easy — 
he has changed the form of the authority and enormously extended its 
powers — the substance of its action had better remain as it is until a 
more seasonable rime. Let Collins and Shepheard and the School Board 
men manage elementary education as they will — if they do it with 
efficiency so much the better, if they muddle it up there will come an 
inevitable reaction. Meanwhile, we can get on with the book, and he 
can keep' an eye on university and secondary education. It will be as 
much as he can do to prevent a bad reaction in that quarter — and a 
possible withdrawal of the University grant or of the subsidy to the 
School. 

Jprll i^th . — Ten days at Felixstowe — and only one lazy one — 
Good Friday. For the first three, we worked hard finishing the chapters 
on Nuisances — the last five or six we spent on county, town and vestry 
records with the Spencers at Ipswich and Woodbridge — a happy and 
really restful time because it turned the current of Sidney’s thoughts 
away from the little intrigues and jealousies of the L.C.C. and its 
education committee, on to the bigger currents of past developments 
in local government. We have quite settled to devote the next year 
and possibly three years to the book. Sidney to slack off the L.C.C.; 

I intend to take him off the scene early in July as it is clear that, so 
long as he is there, there is always a tendency on the part of officials 
and even on the part of the malcontents of the education committee, 
288 


THE WEBBS 


to make him do the work of drafting and negotiating. I'hat won’t 
suit our present book — in the metaphorical sense — and will not help 
to get the future book — in the real sense — finished. So I am con- 
sidering Scotland and the possibility of a really long sojourn there 
with our material, and the Spencers looking up things for us in 
London. The next five weeks we shall devote to getting our material 
on municipal enterprise into order so as to see what we require for 
completion. 

Jpril igifA. — We have had a couple of days with H. G. Wells and 
his wife at Sandgate, and they are returning the visit here. We like 
him much — he is absolutely genuine and full of inventiveness — a 
“ speculator ” in ideas — somewhat of a gambler but perfectly aware 
that his hypotheses are not verified. In one sense, he is a romancer 
spoilt by romancing — ^but, in the present stage of sociology, he is useful 
to gradgrinds like ourselves in supplying us with loose generalisations 
which we can use as instruments of research. And we are useful to 
him in supplying an endless array of carefully sifted facts and broad 
administrative experience. 

I asked him to tell me frankly why Wallas and some others were 
so intensely suspicious of us, and seemed bent on obstructing every 
proposal of Sidney’s. He threw out two suggestions: first, that Sidney 
(and no doubt I) was too fond of “ displaying ” his capacity for 
“ tactics ”, that he gave a “ foxy ” impression — that he had better 
fall back on being an enthusiast; secondly, that we were always re- 
garded as a “ combination ” working into each other’s hands, but not 
impelled by quite the same motives, or inspired by quite the same 
purpose — that I was regarded as a “ reactionary ” with an anti- 
Radical creed, and it was suspected that Sidney would eventually veer 
round to my side.i Of course, we have got to be ourselves, whatever 

' Here is a kindly characterisation of the Webbs and their methods by one of the 
most distinguished journalists of his time, A. G. Gardiner; 

“ Among the acolytes of the Fabian order there is a constant controversy as to 
which of the two is before or after the other. It is an idle theme, for you can never 
tell where one ends and the other begins^ — ^how much you are yielding to the 
eloquence of Mrs. Webb, and how much to the suggestion of Mr. Webb. It is she 
who weaves the spells, but he who forges the bolts. Between them they have an 
uncanny power of persuasion. Their knowledge overwhelms you, their sweet 
reasonableness disarms you. You are led captive in the chains of their silken logic, 
and they have the victories that fall to those whose knowledge is the instrument of 
relentless purpose, whose patience is inexhaustible and whose urbanity is never 
ruffled. ... It is this sleuth-like pursuit of their purposes that makes them so 
powerful and so often distrusted. There is nothing that men dislike so much as 
being ‘ managed ’. And Mr. and Mrs. Webb are always ' managing ’ you. They 
sit behind the scenes, touching buttons, pulling wires, making the figures on the 
stage dance to their rhythms. To their modest table come the great and the powerful 
to learn their lessons, and to be coached up in their facte. Some fear to enter that 

289 u 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
may be the drawbacks, but his criticism increased my inclination for a 
somewhat severe abstinence from trying to “ run the show ” — for a 
quiet and unselfconscious withdrawal into other work for the next 
three years. Directly the grant for the School is safe we will go into 
retreat with our papers and books until the October session. 

Jpn/ 20th. — For the Wellses we had a little dinner — carefully 
selected — Mr. Balfour, the Bishop of Stepney, the Bernard Shaws, 
Mrs. Reeves, and a Mr. Thesiger, a new L.C.C. Moderate. The 
P.M., finding himself in a little party of intimates (Thesiger was the 
only stranger), belonging to a strange world completely detached from 
party politics, let himself go, and, I think, thoroughly enjoyed the 
mixture of chaff and dialectic which flew from G. B. S. to Wells and 
round the table to Sidney, the Bishop of Stepney and myself. There 
is always method in our social adventures, and at my instigation Sidney, 
after we had left, backed up by the Bishop and Wells and Shaw, gave 
an elaborate argument in favour of our half-time scheme for boys.i 
As I had told Mr. Balfour that the grand distinction between him and 
the Liberal leaders was that his attitude towards proposals of social 
reform could be expressed by “ Why not? ” and tlreire by a grudging 
" Why? ” he felt bound to be sympathetic and was, I think, somewhat 
taken with the notion. He is honestly concerned about the alleged 
degeneracy of the race, and inclines to, at any rate, “ flirt ” with new 
proposals. And in these days, when the mind of every Liberal leader is 
as closed as a live oyster, one must be grateful for small mercies. 

May, Bramdean. — In the life of a little village one notes how 
far happier and more dignified is the existence of the hard-working 
daughter of the middle-class farmer or shopkeeper than that of the rich 
young woman who drifts through life in the big upper middle-class 
houses dotted about the country. There are seven Miss Legges — in the 
big house next door — there are five Meinertzhagens at Brockwood — 

parlour of incantations, and watch the Webbs with unsleeping hostility. A mere 
suspicion that they are prompting behind the curtain is enough to make them damn 
the most perfect play ” (Pillars of Society, by A. G. Gardiner, pp. 204-6). 

‘ In our Industrial Democracy, 1897 (vol. it. p. 769), we had suggested that 
(instead of pleading for an extension for one or two years of the compulsory attend- 
ance at the elementary school, at that time ending, as regards some occupations, at 
10 years of age) there should be demanded universal compulsory, all-round training, 
including physical and technological, for both boys and girls up to 18 years of age, 
but only half time, either by alternate days or half-daya, or by alternate seasons. It 
could be assumed, we urged, that such a halving of the supply of labour between 
10 and 18 would lead to an increase in the hourly rate of wages which would render 
unnecessMy any but a tiny scholarship in partial maintenance. We had discovered 
such an idea in the apprenticeship laws of certain Swiss Cantonsj and it had some- 
how ( 1 ) found its way into the Report of the Trade Union Minority of the Royal 
Commission on Labour, C. 7421, 1894. 

290 


NEW RECRUITS 


there are countless young ladies all “ awaiting ” with more or less self- 
possession the lot of the marriage market, or a useless old-maidenhood. 
Compare these listless young persons to pretty energetic Dolly Hawkins 
who “ runs ” our little lodgings, helps her father the post-master, and 
thoroughly enjoys her casual flirtations, restricted to her few spare 
hours or afternoons. The cottager lives at too low a level of health 
and intelligence — the men are brutalised, tlie women prematurely oldj 
but the respectable and successful lower middle-class country-bred 
person now combines physical comfort, personal freedom and a con- 
siderable education, and stimulus to activity — a rising standard of ease 
and comfort, but not too high for efficiency. . . . 

In the middle of our stay we ran up to London to take the Joseph 
Fels’ to the University reception to the foreign academies — for once 
breaking our rigid rule of refusing to appear at evening parties. One 
reason for so doing was the desire to be polite to the Fels’. Dowdy 
little Americans to look at — ^he a decidedly vulgar little Jew with 
much push, little else on the surface, she a really refined and intellectual 
and public-spirited little body who, by mere force of character, has 
dragged her husband and his partner into the Fabian Society and other 
advanced movements. The partner, Coates, who lives with them, is a 
mild-mannered and dowdy Yorkshireman — a refined and gentle- 
spirited young clerk who has been made by Fels a parmer in his 
concern — the concern being Fe/s Naptha Soap. Perhaps, after all, it 
was to the soap that we gave the dinner? Certainly, if it could have 
been demonstrated to us that the soap was a lie that would be found 
out — that dinner would not have been given. But a subscription of 
,(100 to the Fabian Society and the report of golden soap-suds, set us 
thinking of the Fels’ as possible founders, yet uncaptured; while the 
lunch made us take a genuine fancy to her, and not finding him 
repulsive, so we speculated an evening on them — more than that, a 
journey up to London! 

I note a certain change in our surroundings. Some of our old 
comrades of ten or even eight years ago have become indifferent or even 
hostile to our ideas. . . . On the other hand, there is a new group of 
friendly young men disposed to take our views seriously — Masterman, 
Morgan, Ensor, Bray, Isaac Mitchell, T. E. Harvey, Basil Williams, 
Broil Herbert, and with a certain reservation, George Trevelyan, are 
all anxious to see more of us. What is, perhaps, a less wholesome sign 
is the accession of “society” folk — -the Hubert Parrys, Batterseas, 
Elclios, Lyttons, [MunroJ Fergusons, Monteagles, Alfred Lytteltons, 
Asquiths, Thesigers, Stamfords, Sydney Buxtons, Bryces and Gorst, 
have been added to those who ask and are asked to dinner. — but all of 
these have a certain usefulness. Some nomjrimds we have made within 

■ 291 ■ 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
the same period— H. G. Wells the foremost, and the George Protheros ; 
H. J. Mackinder is a new colleague and then there are the outer 
circle of senators, L.C.C., and school lecturers, and educational 
administrators, and bishops and distinguished foreigners. On the whole, 
it is an extraordinarily varied and stimulating society. The dominant 
note in our intercourse with these people is social reconstruction — in all 
the little dinners at Grosvenor Road and the tHe-a-Ute talk at other 
people’s dinners — it is always round some project that the conversation 
ranges. What is utterly lacking is art, literature for its own sake, and 
music— whilst physical science only creeps up as analogous and 
illustrative matter; history appears in much the same aspect. The 
relation of man’s mind to the universe is constantly present as a back- 
ground in my own thought and with some of our more intimate 
acquaintances — with T. E. Harvey, Masterman, Haldane, Russell — 
I have long talks; but the subject bores Sidney as leading nowhere and 
as not capable of what he considers valid discussion — exactly as he dis- 
likes discussing what train you will go by, before he has got hold of 
the Bradshaw. He prefers reading a statistical abstract, or an L.C.C. 
agenda. His relation to the universe — in the spiritual sense, he mock- 
ingly suggests, consists in his relation to me! 

June %th. — ^Turned from roads to help Sidney to write an article on 
The Policy of a National Minimum. Before we left London we had a 
little series of young progressives to discuss the possibility of pushing 
the policy of creating an artificial bottom to society by collective 
regulation and collective expenditure — “ canalising ” the forces of 
competition so that all the individuals in the community should be 
pressed upwards not cast downwards. The upshot of this was that we 
had an urgent request for an article to embody our doctrine — five 
thousand words, necessarily topical, are a poor medium; we were tired 
and disinclined to turn from our own proper business, but we felt 
obliged to accept. I thought it better for Sidney to sign the article 
sijigly — the double signature overloads so slight a thing, and it is too 
political in its tone to warrant the intervention of the female partner. 
I believe in mere “ wife’s politics ” — only in research do I claim 
equality of recognition! 

June l^th. — ^We lunched yesterday with the Chamberlains — to 
introduce the Irvines — others there were the Bonar Laws and a 
certain Sweet-Escott, Governor of British Honduras. I sat on one side 
of my old friend and we talked without constraint. He is obsessed with 
the fiscal question — has lost his judgement over it— refuses to think or 
talk of anything else. He looks desperately unhealthy, rather thin too; 
a restless look in his eyes, bad colour, and general aspect of “ falling 
292 


EDUCATION ACTS 


in But I should imagine that there is plenty of force in the man 
yet; an almost mechanically savage persistence in steaming ahead. I 
tried to suggest the “ national minimum ” as a complementary policy 
to import duties. “ I have no prejudice against it,” he answered, “ but 
it would not do for me to suggest it — it would be said that I was trying 
to bribe the working-class. But there is no reason why it should not be 
added on by someone else.” Then we drifted on to the Education 
Acts 1902 and 1903, which he clearly does not favour — he is afraid 
of the advent of the bureaucrat. The trail of the profit-maker in 
industry is in everything that Chamberlain proposes or opposes — he 
detests the salaried expert. Like many others who share this dislike he 
tries to ignore the inevitability of the officials’ (salaried administrators) 
government of society, instead of devising safeguards against the evils 
of it. “ If I had been Prime Minister, you would not have had the 
Education Act.” “The one and only reason for my not regretting 
that you are not Prime Minister ”, I answered pleasantly; and we passed 
on to other things. Sidney says that after the ladies left, Chamberlain 
urged on Irvine almost passionately the need for preferential tariffs 
(S. W. devoting himself to Sweet-Escott, as it was clear that Chamber- 
lain wanted to talk confidentially to Irvine. Bonar Law had left). 
Upstairs, we four ladies had conversation — gossip about Rosebery and 
the Liberal Cabinet — and discussing the relative merits of Pro- 
testantism and Catholicism. I like Mrs. Chamberlain; there is a lot of 
sincerity and simple feeling in her face — a somewhat pathetic ex- 
pression, as if life were too much for her, though she obviously enjoys, 
to its full, the social side of the position. I imagine she worships her 
great man. But there must be times when the great personage with his 
irritability, one-sidedness, pitiful unhealthiness and egotism and 
vulgarity, is rather a heavy handful for that refined and charming little 
lady. 

All goes well with the L.C.C. and the education committee. First- 
rate officials are being selected, the routine administration is being 
digested and the plain man is learning his lesson. Sidney finds himself 
on agreeable terms with all parties: the School Board women being 
apparently the only persons who bear him a grudge. I have been some- 
what assiduous in my cultivation of the Progressives — successfully, so 
I think; and, by leaving London at the end of June, we have at 
least convinced them that Sidney does not want to run the show. 
Antagonisms are being developed between some of the members, but 
Sidney has kept well outside them. He has been re-elected on the party 
committee, the grant to the University and the School went through 
without a word, and some of the leading Progressives have signified 
that they think he has acted “ nobly ” in subordinating his claims to the 


293 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

chairmanship of the education committee. He has given the im- 
pression that he really does not care for the distinctions of office, and 
as we have other work which we actually prefer doing, we are glad 
enough that he should be absolved from close attendance. So we go off 
to Scotland with our books and our papers for our three months’ 
recess, with a good conscience and good hope. 

June 20th. — Sidney’s influence on the joint-life is wholesome in 
curbing my lower desires. There have been three separate entertain- 
ments that I should like to have gone to — Lady Wimborne’s, Mr. 
Balfour’s and the Duchess of Sutherland’s evening parties. Feeling 
secure in the possession of an attractive garment I should have liked to 
have paraded mjreelf. But S. was obdurate. “ You won’t be able to 
work the next morning, and I don’t think it is desirable diat we should 
be seen in the houses of great people. Know them privately if you like, 
but don’t go to their miscellaneous gatherings. If you do, it will be 
said of us as it is of Sir Gilbert Parker — in the dead silence of the night 
you hear a distant but monotonous sound — Sir Gilbert Parker climbing, 
climbing, climbing.” And I recognised the better voice and tore up 
the cards. 

The last weeks Sidney’s days have been over-filled with committees 
and the work arising from them. Yesterday, for instance, 8.45-11.0, 
drafting a report for the chairman of one of the sub-committees of the 
education committee of the L.C.C.; 1 1 o’clock Royal Commission on 
Trade Disputes; 12.30 sub-committee at School Board offices; 1.30 
took train to South Kensington, lunching in the train, for 2 o’clock 
Departmental Committee on Royal College of Science; 4.30 took the 
chair at the London School of Economics at meeting of railway 
magnates to decide on railway department (secured £1000 a year to 
start department); 6 o’clock arrived late at higher education committee 
at School Board office and transacted, as chairman, remainder of 
business; 8 o’clock dinner here — Bernard Shaws, Jack Tennants, 
John Burns, Munro Fergusons and Stephen Hobhouse; after dinner 
group of young Progressives to be introduced to John Burns and 
G. B. S.; to bed 12 o’clock; began work again at book at 8.45. Very 
naturally there is not much brain left for the book, and until we get 
right away from London we shall only muddle on. But muddling on 
is better than leaving oflF; the stuff one gets on to the paper contains 
the necessary quotations and gives one something to bite. 

October ibth.— 'The three months in Scotland were so completely a 
joint existence that there was neither the desire nor the opportunity 
to record it in this book. When Sidney is with me I cannot talk to the 
other self with whom I commune when I am alone^ — “ it ” ceases to 

294 


A WORKING HOLIDAY 


be present and only reappears when he becomes absent. Then the old 
self, who knew me and whom I have known for that long period 
before Sidney entered into my life — ^who seems to be that which is 
permanent in me — sits again in the judgement seat and listens to the 
tale of the hours and days, acts, thoughts and feelings, which the 
earthly one has experienced. 

Beautiful and peaceful have been the scenes of our long working 
holiday — especially enchanting the hill-side of Fyrish, with heather 
and fir-clad mountains rising up behind us, and Cromarty Firth and 
the North Sea rolled out beneath us; the “ Golden Gate ”, as we 
called the North and South Suters, will remain in my memory as one 
of the most beautiful exposes of water, land and sky. Especially 
beautiful the week before we left when the sun rose midway between 
the two promontories, right out of the ocean, its rays lighting up, one 
by one, each feature of the Firth until the whole landscape of cornfields, 
heather and rich foliage was one soft glow of gold, brown and green. 

Except for four days’ cycling on the West Coast and the two days 
broken by our change of quarters at the end of July (from Nethy 
Bridge near Grantown, to Fyrish near Evanton), we worked steadily 
six days out of seven at the book, for the four morning hours — spending 
the afternoons in reading and exercise. Once a week we would take a 
Sabbath and go some thirty miles to see friends or explore the mountains 
of the Black Isle. Excellent health, and greater bodily and mental 
vigour than I have ever known before, made me feel as if I were still 
in the very prime of life, and Sidney too seemed unreservedly happy. 
We saw a good deal of neighbours; made friends with the elementary 
teachers and ministers in both places, and at Fyrish had, as agreeable 
acquaintances, the mother and daughter of the Laird of Novar — 
Munro Ferguson. 

We made some superficial and scattered observations on Scottish 
education and social life, but I doubt whether they are worth recording. 
I brooded, in lonely walks, over the book, or over the new philosophy 
which is gradually taking shape in my mind; or praised the unknown 
for our exceeding happiness; or prayed for strength to be abstemious, 
persistent in work, and clear-sighted and constantly kind to others. 
But I was working so hard at technical detail (roads, pavement and 
cleansing) that I had little strength left over for other reading or 
writing, and was glad to let myself be absorbed in the mere enjoyment 
of light, air and colour. 

November 8M.— Sidney has been busy drafting his scholarship sche?ne 
and getting it accepted by his higher education committee. He has 
found his Progressive colleagues in a most kindly humour. Cornwall 
thanked him the other day for his self-abnegation — intimating that the 

■ 295 . ■ 



THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

junta recognised his delicacy in so retiring from view that it could not 
he said that he was running them ” and practically asking him to 
continue the same policy for a little longer, and then all would be well. 
And the policy has at least the advantage of enabling him to spend half 
his time in reading at the British Museum — all to the good of the book. 

We spent last Sunday at the Sydney Buxtons with Haldane and the 
Birrells — endless discussions as to the future of tlie Liberal Party. It is 
clear that they are unrepentant in their determination to run into place 
on the old lines of economy and freedom of trade, and anti-priest bias — 
they refuse even to contemplate any other policy — dismiss all social 
reform from their minds except, perhaps, a revision of the incidence of 
taxation in favour of the small consumer. 

They are not optimistic — look forward to a bare majority over the 
Irish and a tenure of one or two years — “ let us get a front bench ” is 
their cry. Haldane told us as we drove to the station early on Monday 
morning, that there had been a move to exclude the “ Limps ” last 
spring, but that it had collapsed and the dominant note now was a 
Cabinet of all sections. 

December 6 th . — ^We stayed Saturday and Sunday with the Thesigers, 
an attractive young couple, he a son of the General, Lord Chelmsford, 
and she a daughter of Lord Wimborne, both tall and pleasant to look 
at, intelligent, public-spirited, and versed in all the little amenities of 
hospitality and conversation. He is a leading Moderate on the L.C.C., 
also a member of the Dorset County Council; together they run the 
church, the school, the library, the glee-club, of their hamlet — all 
activities which militate against his getting on over much at the Bar. 
Indeed, it is this willingness to spend themselves on social service, this 
apparent absence of political, professional or social ambition, which 
lends a peculiar attractiveness to the minage, in spite of a lack of any 
special distinction in the way of forceful administrative capacity or 
intellectual curiosity or subtlety. Our fellow-guests were Professor 
Ker — professor of English and English literature at University College, 
and a young Cecil ^ — 3. son of Lord Eustace Cecil. The former was 
distinctly of the owl type — his qualifications to teach the higher forms 
of his own language judged by his own conversational powers were not 
considerable. He was mostly silent, when he did speak one barely under- 
stood him; sometimes there seemed to glimmer through his badly 
chosen words and awkward sentences a sort of pawky Scotch humour, 
but one had to puzzle it out. Sidney says that on the Senate he never 
gets iiis proposals carried from lack of power of lucid or even correct 
expression. Imagine a university professor of French in Paris being 

' Note, 1936.— Algernon Cecil; he joined the Roman Catholic Church some 
years afterwards. 


CECIL PHILOSOPHY 

remarkable for an utter absence of the power to talk good French^ 
Young Cecil was interesting because he was able to describe or imply 
the Cecil philosophy of life. For him society was cloven in two — the 
Church and the world. The Church was governed by spiritual illumina- 
tion; the world outside of this radius was exclusively dominated by 
the motive of pecuniary self-interest. To attempt to run the secular 
world on any other motive was not only contrary to the commandment 
“ Give unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s ” but was almost 
blasphemy. All real progress was confined to progress of the individual 
soul under the influence of the Church, Any increase of honesty or 
kindliness, of honour, public spirit or truth-seeking brought about 
otherwise, was merely a higher stage of self-interest (equally damnable 
as the lower stages) — merely the discovery by each individual that those 
qualities paid better. Accompanying, and to some extent coinciding 
with this cleavage, was that between the hereditary and landed aristo- 
cracy represented by the Cecils, and “ the others ”. The Cecils 
governed by spiritual illumination (inherited through a long line of 
noble ancestors) were to direct the policy of the state, making use of 
the lower motives of vulgar folk to keep the state going on its material 
side. The odd part of the whole scheme was the almost fanatical objec- 
tion to any attempt to alter the motives of human nature, otherwise 
than by the action of the Church on the individual soul — and a 
complete complacency with the one secular motive of enlightened self- 
interest as the basis of everyday life. It was almost as wicked to tamper 
with this motive by introducing other considerations into the industrial 
or political organisation of the state, as it was to introduce the pecuniary 
motive into the Church — as for instance in the sale of indulgences or 
simony. Altogether I began to see the current Radical objection to the 
Toryism of the Cecil type. The boy himself was both pure in heart 
and intellectual in tastes, and with that delightful modesty of manner 
and easy deference which robbed the creed of any appearance of class 
insolence or religious intolerance. He was suffering from an extremity 
of bad health— appendicitis and its results — ^and was quite obviously 
being villainously treated on the physic and “ much food ” plan of the 
ordinary doctor. I did roy best to upset both his philosophy and his 
rdgime by a combination of serious discussion and rap-dazzle repartee 

‘ Later I realised that this hasty and superficial impression did injustice to a fine 
intellect, the master of massive erudition in fields of which I knew nothing. Walter 
Paton Ker (1855-1923) held the Chair at University College, London, in 
English Language and Literature, and published many learned books and articles 
on the mediaeval literature of England, which bad a great reputation. He was a shy 
and unassuming, but very kindly teacher; and I have been told that, with intimate 
friends, he was witty as well as wise. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

— but I doubt success in either direction — the philosophy and the 
regimen were both too congenial to the fastidious and subtle self- 
indulgence of his temperament to be undermined in 48 hours by an 
elderly free-thinking woman. If the creed and the regimen remain 
unqualified he will be a waste product in society — interesting only as 
an obsolete type. 

December — An outbui-st of jealousy among the leading Pro- 

gressives at the scholarship scheme, which has attracted much attention 
and is almost universally praised. Collins, Cornwall and Dickinson have 
not been making much of a success of their special functions — getting 
a good deal of odium for sins of commission and omission from Non- 
conformists and Church alike — Sidney on their instructions lying low. 
Then out he comes as chairman of the higher education committee 
with his great scholarship scheme carefully thought out in detail, with 
arguments showing that it is inevitable. They don’t like to oppose it 
because the need for more teachers is urgent and the trend of opinion 
all in favour of increased facilities for the lower middle-class — they 
can’t object to the detailed proposals because they don’t know sufficient 
to suggest others to take their place — ^but it is offending the N.U.T., 
backing up the secondary schools, and spending the rates. Moreover, 
as Collins naively remarked to the Council, “ If it is a success, the 
credit will be Mr. Webb’s ” — he said it in a complimentary tone but 
it was clearly an uncomfortable thought. However, though it is 
adjourned, Sidney thinks it is certain to go through because of the 
general outside approval, and because they cannot suggest an alternative. 
But he was a wee bit hurt at the lack of frankness and generosity on 
the part of the governing clique. I have given up trying to propitiate 
them as I don’t find my cordiality makes any difference to their 
jealousy of Sidney’s influence with the press and the powers that be. 
I tell him that he must put up witli tlie defects of his qualities: if he 
goes in for hidden influence he must expect hidden obstruction. It is 
worth while “ preparing positions ” so as to carry measures one 
believes in — if one’s talent lies in that direction one ought to do it. 
But very naturally the persons who find themselves in these prepared 
positions — unable to get out except through his way— naturally do not 
like it, and try to make the way as unpleasant as they can for him 
personally. Our amazing good fortune and perpetual happiness an 
ample reward for these vexations. 

Kate Courtney remarked the other day that she always wondered, 
in reading the published diaries or confidential writing of private 
persons, why they seemed so little concerned with the great question 
of peace and war — so infinitely more important than their own little 
doings or narrow range of interests, solemnly recorded in their diaries. 

298 


THE “ RISING SUN ” 

And I bethought me that there is hardly a reference to the Russia- 
Japanese war in these pages. The answer I gave on the spur of the 
moment, is, I think, the true one; “ The private person has no 
specialist knowledge, no particular or exceptional experience as to 
world politics — his thoughts and feelings would be a mere reflection 
of his morning newspapers and worthless both to him and to those who 
might some day read the story of his life And yet, if one looks back 
on the past year and thinks how much one has brooded over the Far- 
Eastern drama — how eagerly one has read each morning’s news and 
how one has stumbled into foreshadowing the effect of the “ Rising 
Sun ” on our Western civilisation — it is hardly fair to leave it wholly 
unnoticed. For instance, I watch in m3?5elf and othere a growing 
national shamefacedness at the superiority of the Japanese over our 
noble selves in capacity, courage, self-control, in benevolence as well 
as in all that makes up good manners ! They shame our Christianity, 
they shame our administrative capacity, they shame our inventiveness, 
they shame our leadership, and alas! they shame our “ average sensual 
man Perhaps, it makes the matter worse that they have won not by 
the genius of one man — which might be an accident not likely to 
recur again — but on the intellectual, physical and moral qualities of 
the whole people. They seem both more scientific and more religious 
than ourselves — a nobler purpose and more ably contrived processes 
wherewith to carry out this purpose. Their success will alter not 
merely the balance of power, but the balance of ideas — it will tell 
against Christianity as the one religion, against materialistic in- 
dividualism, against autocracy, against luxury, in favour of organisation, 
collective regulation, scientific education, physical and mental training 
— but on the whole 7 iot in favour of democracy. They have suddenly 
raised the standard of international efficiency — exactly in those depart- 
ments of life where we Western nations imagined ourselves supremely 
superior to the Eastern races. How far this shock to self-esteem will 
go in English society — how far it will be neutralised by the vulgar 
delight of seeing our ally beat our enemy — ^remains to be seen. But, 
for many a long day, the reformer will be able to quote on his side the 
innovating collectivism of the Japanese; the idealist, the self-abnegation 
of all classes of the community in a common cause. Even in one’s own 
daily life, one is inclined towards greater persistency and more self- 
sacrifice. So closes 1904 and this book of the diaries. 

1905 

January l\st . — 'The main excitement [I write on January 21, 
1905] is watching events in Russia — likely to prove the essential need 
299 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

for co7mnt as an element in stable government. Japan is proving the 
superlative advantage of scientific methods in the international struggle 
for existence. How to combine the maximum of consent with the 
highest degree of efficiency is the problem before us in England: the 
average sensual man not wanting to be improved ! 

February 8rA. — Dickinson, who is now trying to boss the Council’s 
policy in elementary education, told Sidney quite frankly that he in- 
tended to get by administration what he despaired of getting by an 
amendment of tlie Act — I suppose the extinction of denominational 
schools through a combined policy of impossible requirements and 
starvation. He very naively added that he could not take Sidney into 
his confidence since he might use the knowledge to thwart him — a 
declaration which absolves Sidney from loyalty to the party counsels. 
They were most friendly with each other, but it was clear that 
Dickinson had got the governing clique to back him up and was going 
to keep Sidney at arm’s length. However, in regard to secondary and 
university education, they are letting Sidney have his own way, and he 
is preparing some interesting situations for them to wake up to presently. 
The ratepayer, too, will have something to say to a policy of super- 
session. I have confidence that Dickinson will turn out too stupid — 
will fail to bring about a reaction. But it all means lack of efficiency — 
mutual obstruction instead of co-operation. 

We have Sir Oliver Lodge staying here for two or three days. A 
delightful personality — large and fresh in his thought and feeling, but 
suffering from a bad fit of intellectual dissipation after a long life of 
specialism, made more acute by introduction to the Balfour-Elcho- 
Wyndham set — z. fascinating temptation to an attractive person con- 
demned to live in a provincial town. He is another instance of the 
fallacy that physical science is an outfit for the psychological and social 
sciences. It never occurs to us economists and political science students 
to imagine that our long-standing study of the complicated structure 
and function of society fits us to be astronomers or physicists — but the 
physical science man plunges head foremost into the discussion of our 
questions, armed with the four rules of arithmetic and the instruments 
of a laboratory. 

For his entertainment we had a little party consisting of the Bertrand 
Russells, Granville- Barkers (the intellectual actor), Mackinder, Lion 
Phillimore, Wernher (Wernher & Beit) and Balfour. I begged the 
P.M. to talk to Bertrand and placed them next each other, and they 
got on famously — I sacrificed myself during some part of dinner to 
the millionaire (who is endowing London University); Lodge, Gran- 
ville-Barker, Sidney and the two charming ladies kept up a lively talk 
at the other end. There vyas a subtle antipathy of Balfour to Mackinder 
300 


SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME 

and Wernher — mere philistine materialist administrators he would feel 
— there was sympathy between him and Russell and Barker, and of 
course he and Lodge are affectionate friends and fellow synthetic 
philosophers. Lodge got on with all the company — Mackinder and 
Wernher chummed up and walked away together — the intellectual 
young actor wrote me entliusiastically that he had walked home with 
the great man. Mr. Balfour likes both the Webbs — that is clear — 
finds them stimulating and attractive. To-day I took our guest to 
lunch with the Courtneys — to meet John Morley, the Spenders, 
George Trevelyan, etc. John Morley eyed me suspiciously, but in- 
sisted on listening to my lively talk to Spender. 

February — Sidney gleeful as to the acceptance of his scholar- 
ship scheme — the only piece of constructive work done as yet by the 
education committee of the L.C.C. Without in the least being aware 
of it, the dear Progressives have let themselves in for supporting all 
the existing secondary schools (under separate management, and some, 
decidedly, and nearly all, theoretically, denominational) and for pro- 
viding others under the direct management of the L.C.C. And the 
amusing part of it is that those who, like Graham [Wallas], object to 
the existing schools, will push all they know how, to get L.C.C. 
secondary schools started, whereas timid Progressives, like Torrance 
and the party leaders, who don’t like to run up the rates for higher 
education, will find themselves forced to defend the denominational 
schools as the cheapest way out of the dilemma. “ I can now leave the 
two forms of obstruction to fight it out,” chuckles Sidney, “ they will 
both be pushing on the machine in the direction that I want it to go.” 
The scholarship scheme is, in fact, going to dominate the whole policy 
of the committee. Meanwhile, the five big officials have coalesced 
satisfactorily and are constantly coming to Sidney for advice. So that he 
really loses very little by not being chairman, and escapes both the odium 
and the responsibility, “ The glory of it ” he is quite content to leave 
to others ! If the Progressives had dared to do it, they would really have 
been able to control him better by placing him in the chairmanship 
and then forcing him to accept the whole responsibility. And, of course, 
the administration would have been more efficient and more eco- 
nomical. But in view of the violent suspicion of the Nonconformists 
and the N.U.T., that was politically impossible. 

March Sth . — The Wallases and Bray came to dine last night, and 
the three men sat for two hours discussing education policy, whilst I 
listened dreamily to Audrey’s gentle chatter in the drawing-room. 
Sidney and Bray tried to get Graham to enter into a concordat-— 
Sidney prepared to back him up with regard to the elementary education 

■ . 301 '■ 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

if he. Wallas, would back Sidney up in secondary and university 
matters. But Graham will not budge from his principle of starving out 
the secondary schools under separate management— he will not agree 
to run both systems, provided and non-provided, side by side. Sidney, 
on the other hand, whilst ready to provide as many secondary and 
university institutions as the ratepayers will pay for, wants gradually 
to acquire sufficient control over all the others to raise their standard 
to the required level. However, though Graham refused to give up his 
principle, he agreed to consult with Sidney and Bray as to the applica- 
tion of it, and not to wantonly obstruct without consideration or 
warning. What is clear is that the present constitution of the L.C.C. 
as educational authority is transitional, and unstable in the last degree. 
The men who know most and are most patiently persistent will, how- 
ever unpopular their policy may be, in the end rule the roost. The next 
three years, with the parliamentary election to take some of the fore- 
most Progressives into higher spheres, and the L.C.C. elections two 
years hence to lose some Progressive seats, will clear off a good many 
of the present obstructions. But when exactly we shall feel free to go 
off for our eight months’ trip to the Far East remains in dim obscurity 
— a vision of rest and refreshment at the end of many more months and 
years of sustained drudgery. I am beginning to hanker after a period of 
fallowness. 

March 2,1st . — Another old friend passed away — Marie Souvestre. 
A brilliant woman, handsome, warm-hearted — -the very soul of 
veracity — and keen-witted. A school mistress for nearly half-a-century, 
she must have counted for much in the lives of many women coming 
from the best of the governing class in England, America, F ranee and 
Germany. But she was not only a school mistress: she was an habitude, 
during middle life, of intellectual society in Paris, Berlin and London; 
she had known most of the advanced politicians and thinkers springing 
from the professional and middle-class. Twenty years ago, in York 
House days, I used to meet her at the Chamberlains, Harrisons, 
Morleys — it was she who introduced me to the Creightons. 

It is strange to think of that passionate nature- — with her scorn of 
what she felt to be mean, her bitter Criticism of what she did not under- 
stand, her devoted service to those she loved, her exalted enthusiasm for 
what was noble in her eyes— -to think of that force passed away into 
the unknown silence of death. A few weeks ago I visited her twice, and 
thought I saw the hand of death on her face; she seemed quite as alive 
in spirit as when I first met her at Frederic Harrison’s — and now 
where is she? 

Veracity, an undeviating directness of intelligence, faithfulness and 
warmth of affection, were her most delightful qualities; dignity of 
302 


MARIE SOUVESTRE 


manner and brilliancy of speech her chief ornaments. An amazing 
narrowness of vision for so intelligent a person; a total inability to 
understand religion; a dogmatism that was proof against the spirit of 
scientific investigation; a lack of charity to feelings with which she did 
not sympathise — in short, an absence of humility was, perhaps, the most 
disabling of her characteristics. It narrowed her influence to those 
whom she happened to like and who happened to like her. Others 
refused to listen; and with some she roused evil feelings. 

It is hard for those born in the modern England to understand the 
passionate hatred of ecclesiasticism — of religion — which seems to 
dominate French free-thinkers; it is so hard not to count it as an evil 
thing. Yet this feeling is not mainly evil — it has in it an element of 
idealism — of faith in noble qualities which were, far back in history, 
trampled under foot by organised Christianity; and which they still 
believe are in danger from the existing Church. The shackling of the 
spirit of investigation into the processes of life, the attempt to stereotype 
the purpose of life — the suppression of the inner light by mere formalism, 
the assumption of individuals of better motives than are actually present 
— all these various shades of disloyalty to truth seem to these militant 
secularists still rampant in any body of men knit together by the religious 
spirit. This conviction may have a grain of truth in it, since this lack of 
veracity is the special temptation which besets tlie religious mind. But, 
on the other hand, the absence of religious impulse seems to leave most 
of these natures blind and infirm even in their intellectual judgements. 
Marie Souvestre was not a wise woman- — ^she was hard on the great 
mass of common people — occasionally even unjust; she always insisted, 
like Herbert Spencer, on being judge in her own case. She could not 
tolerate the idea that might be wrong. And it was a strange irony 
that she was almost as ignorant of the persistent industry, patience and 
humility, involved in the scientific method, as she was of the religious 
impulse. All knowledge appeared to her as a series of intuitions, as 
sparks struck by the instantaneous contact of the mind with its environ- 
ment — not as the slow adjustment of the order of thought to the order 
of things. Observation and conjecture, yes, but verification, no. 

znd . — Sidney is happier in his L.C.C. work than I have 
known him since the first Council. He has, in his special department 
of education, the maximum of power with the minimum of responsi- 
bility. He has no personal enemies on the Council, and the bulk of the 
Progressives, feeling that they have behaved rather shabbily in keeping 
him out of all prominent places, are really anxious to “ oblige him ” on 
questions of policy. The Moderates, whilst acknowledging his separate 
standpoint, feel him to be an ally of tlreir best side — i.e. of their en- 
deavour to develop the neglected parts of the educational system. The 

mr 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
officials, one and all, consult and trust him, regarding him almost as 
one of themselves. And as regards the future, it is rather a case of 
“ heads you lose, tails I win If the Progressives, by insisting on 
direct administration and county provision of all education, run up the 
rates, then there will be a reaction in favour of the Moderates. If the 
Moderates come in, there will be better organisation and more delega- 
tion; if the Progressives maintain themselves, there will be more ex- 
penditure ; in short, the Progressives will find it impossible not to improve 
the function and the Moderates to improve the structure of the educa- 
tional authority — ^and both parties must more or less accept his policy. 
Meanwhile, he is completely in the background — a free-lance ready 
to engage in a skirmish with either side, and relieved from the worry 
and strain of getting things through the Council in which he is not 
specially interested. He is thus free to give time and thought to the book, 
April iph . — ^Three or four weeks, day after day, spent either 
amassing new material at the British Museum for our chapters on the 
county or in analysing our twelve boxes of material at home. Some 
days I have spent a good six hours at work — seeing no one until Sidney 
returned in the evening — just going for a constitutional after lunch or 
walking along the Embankment to call on Kate Courtney in the 
hour or so before supper. But most weeks we have had a twelve-person 
dinner at home; dined out twice or three times; lunched casual persons 
on intermediate days; and, on three occasions, we have entertained at 
dinner the stalF of the School, with gatherings of 50 to 70 students 
coming in afterwards. Then my work the next day has suffered either 
in quality or quantity or both, and I have felt disheartened at the 
length and complexity of our task. Our life tends, however, to become 
more and more the student’s life and to be less interrupted by social 
engagements— partly the pressure of completing these two first volumes 
disinclines me to accept dinners, makes me neglect calls, and absolutely 
prohibits evening parties other than our own. With such persons as we 
do see, we find ourselves on the pleasantest of terms — the result of the 
privilege of living with a companion who knows neither malice nor 
envy, nor desire to excel, nor the remotest tinge of what the world 
calls “snobbishness”. -Sidney is simply unconscious of all the little 
meanness which turns social intercourse sour: he is sometimes tired, 
occasionally bored, but never unkindly or anxious to shine, or be 
admired, and wholly unaware of the absence of, or presence of, social 
consideration, I verily believe 'that if he were thrown, by chance, into 
a company of persons all of whom wanted to snub him, he would take 
up the first book and become absorbed in it, with a sort of feeling that 
they were good-natured enough not to claim his attention, or that they 
did not perceive >that he was reading on the sly. And the greater 

m 


utopia” 


personages they happened to be, the more fully satisfied he would be at 
the arrangement; since it would relieve him of any haunting fear that 
he was neglecting his social duty and making others uncomfortable. 
On the other hand, whether in his own house or in another’s, if some 
person is neglected or out of it, Sidney will quite unconsciously drift 
to them and be seen eagerly talking to them. 

H. G. Wells came for the night; he had sent us his Utopia. “ The 
chapters on the Samurai will pander to all your worst instincts ”, he 
laughingly remarked when I congratulated him. He is full of intellectual 
courage and initiative, and is now settling down to psychological novels 
— I fancy somewhat inspired by Henry James’s late success. 

A pleasant little dinner at the Talbots’ (Bishop of Rochester) on 
Saturday. The P.M., the Dean of Westminster, Lady Gwendolen 
Cecil and ourselves. Mr. Balfour’s plaint, “ There is no need for the 
newspapers to tell me my faults, I know them all, but I can’t alter 
them ”, A long talk with the Bishop afterwards. Sidney hopeful about 
the future, he somewhat pessimistic. Lady Gwendolen Cecil, like her 
sister. Lady Selborne (whom we met at a large and fashionable dinner 
the other day, and with whom I talked much), exactly the same 
philosophy as young Algernon Cecil. Utterly sceptical of any reform 
of society brought about by altering the environment of individuals — 
the boy brought up by drunken parents in the worst slum of London, 
Lady Gwendolen maintained, was as likely to turn out satisfactorily 
as the most favoured person. “ It is surely a question of experience,” I 
suggested, “ your experience of life, leads to one conclusion, my experi- 
ence leads me to another.” But, in some subtle way, this reference 
to experience, as the test of our rival assumptions, did not satisfy 
her. 

May I ith . — A happy three weeks with the Playnes at Longfords. 
Wrote about one-third of our part on the “ County ”, taking the two 
last days off for long rides in glorious weather — to Malmesbury one 
day, and then a lovely day in the Standish woods alone with my boy. 
We hid our bicycles in tbe leaves at the top of the beech woods and 
wandered down, hand in hand, to the dear old field overlooking 'the 
house — the scene of childish sorrow and joy and all the stirrings and 
strivings of young womanhood. The valley was shrouded in heat mist, 
the broad surface of the Bristol channel glimmering through and the 
hills behind in faintest outline — these only to the eye of knowledge. 
Then a lovely walk wheeling our iron round the crest of the Cotswolds 
to tlie Beacon Hill, overlooking a more glorious view of the greatest 
breadth of the Severn "Valley bordered by the Malverns, on one side, 
and the Channel, on the other. A ride back through the deep lanes of 
the valley— cottages, churches, and farms, that one knew long ago — 

ao5 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 
even some familiar faces grown old and furrowed. A delicious ending 
to our Easter recess ! 

We worked away for four or five hours a day in our little sitting- 
room, and chatted with the family in the intervals. There was a 
German nephew ' and his wife — a. young doctor — lying up with a 
bruised back. He was quite the typical good sort oi gebildeter German — 
self-complacent, materialist, well-instructed, but appallingly ignorant 
of anything outside what he himself had read and observed. He was 
intensely nervous about his health, selfish with his excellent little wife, 
lacking in public spirit, or even of any notion of duty other than being 
a respectable doctor, father, husband. He was completely satisfied with 
everything German — from the German elementary education to the 
German Emperor, believing that Germany’s pre-eminence was un- 
questioned in industry, in government, in knowledge, in poetry and in 
sentiment. Beyond the fact that he was a “ nice ” fellow, he had no 
distinction, except only a desire to improve his professional knowledge. 
What young English doctor, in mid-career as a consultant at a fashion- 
able watering-place, would dream of spending his winter months at 
one or other university to work under specialist professors — and yet 
he is considered merely a commonplace young man. 

Then we had a Chinese lady and her brother down for a couple of 
days — the lady in native costume, the gentleman in European. They 
spoke English volubly but badly. They belonged to the wealthy class — 
the uncle the Chinese Governor of Shanghai, the father brought up 
to be a Mandarin but preferring the free-er position of a capitalist at 
large. He owned the pawnshops of Shanghai and much real estate, and 
had married the daughter of a large rice planter. They gave us a vision 
of the residences of the wealthy Chinaman; it contained within its own 
walls 40 maid servants, 20 men servants, 6 private secretaries and 
tutors, 4 tailors, all serving a family of 15, including two married sons 
and their babies and two unmarried daughters — the ladies and children 
living in the ladies’ apartments in the inner walls of the establishment. 
These two young people represented the most emancipated of rich 
persons; both were supremely discontented with the government of 
China, the education of China, the society of China — without in the 
least admiring any other race or civilisation. For the Japanese they had 
envy and the irritation of mortified vanity at being considered their 
inferiors — perhaps, just a glimmer of satisfaction at their “ cousins ” 
beating the detested foreigners. They were crass materialists, regarding 
all religion as so much folly, fit only to eke out legal compulsion in 
respect to uncivilised races or classes. They had no notion of science; 
they were conscious there was some trick of Western civilisation which 
* Dr. Geise. (Ed.) 

306 


A CHINESE LADY 

they wanted to learn — which led to mechanical invention profitable 
to men— but the discovery of truth for its own sake was to them an 
unknown impulse. Honour of parents and love of children seemed their 
best quality, perhaps, just the first signs of philanthropy. They lacked 
the symptoms of health, they had no courage either physical or mental, 
and one would not trust their veracity. Their manners vvere excellent, 
and they were sensitive to every change of expression in those with 
whom they consorted— adaptable yet dignified. We have promised to 
visit them in China. , ,, ^ 

The little lady was the more intelligent of the two; she told us ot 
the futility of Chinese education— how it took three years to learn the ^ 
mechanical art of writing, and ten years to learn to express yourself in 
literature, owing to the inconceivable complication of the Chinese 
language.’ And as children they worked eight hours a day, chiefly 
learning books by heart — no physical exercise, no freedom, no intei- 
course with the world. And rich young men smoked and gambled, read 
and sometimes kept “ seraglios ’’—the last was very bad, she thought. 
The poor worked incessantly to become rich. Some foolish persons 
took to “ prayer ”, but that occupation struck her as “ only something 
a degree less undesirable than opium smoking She wanted to write a 
book to tell the Chinese how the Western people lived, and to get the 
Chinese ladies out of their habit of perpetual chatter about their dresses 
and their pearls. She was a good little soul, but I suspected that she 
said to us what she thought would please us, not her real opinions. 
She told us that this brother was not married— a thumping he as she 
afterwards admitted— because an English missionary’s wife had told 
her a married man was never spoken to in England! _ 

A long talk with H. G. Wells at Sandgate; two articles of our 
social faith are really repulsive to him— the collective provision of any- 
thing bordering on religious or emotional training, and the collective 
regulation of the behaviour of the adult. As to the latter, we are not 
redly at variance, for we would willingly accept his limitation of this 
intervention to all such behaviour as impinges on the non-adult (heaven 
knows, that little scheme would give us enough regulation of the adult 
and to spare). But he is obdurate as to education: no form of training 
must be provided out of common funds that he pereonally objects to. 
My plea for variety and experiment, for leaving the door open for new 
religions or morality, by permitting those who believe in the o d to have 
it provided for their children; Sidney’s plea for tolerance strikes a deaf 
ear “ The child is not fit for emotional training until after adole- 
scence ”, he dogmatically asserts. » There is no injustice m not giving 
one form of training ”, he insists. But he went further than this: I 
don’t believe in tolerance, you have got to fight against anything being 


307 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

taught anybody which seems to you harmful, you have got to struggle 
to get your own creed taught.” We all got hot and exaggerated in our 
arguments and were no nearer agreement when we parted. 

I suppose it is inevitable that we who believe in extending the 
functions of the state in all directions should be keenly desirous of 
making this activity as catholic as possible; of safeguarding each new 
departure by deliberate provision for dissenters from the established 
view. Clearly, the whole of Liberalism in England is swinging into 
rigid conformity — ^both in the structure and formations of the social 
organism. As you cannot have each individual separately provided for 
according to his needs, therefore, you must have identical treatment 
to all — seems their present dogma. 

June loth . — ^The Progressives have turned Sidney off the party 
committee. Some of the rump are very angry with him for entangling 
them in secondary education. The leaders are always civil to him; the 
rank and file find themselves accepting his proposals; but neither the 
leaders nor the ordinary members really like his policy and are vexed 
to find themselves pursuing it. So they try to keep him down personally, 
and would, I think, be relieved to get rid of him. Sidney, meanwhile, 
is in the best of humours — his scholarship scheme is working admirably, 
and forcing by its mere weight the Council either to subsidise existing 
secondary schools or to build and manage new ones. It is “ heads I win, 
tails you lose And, as he cannot get control of the whole machine 
of London education — elementary, secondary and university — and 
make it really efficient, he is glad enough to be obviously out of office, 
to hang loosely to the Progressive Party. It absolves him of any 
responsibility to the public, and of any excessive loyalty to the party. 
When McKinnon Wood, / think sincerely, expressed his regret that 
he had been knocked off the party committee, Sidney answered smil- 
ingly that he thought that “ there was really a cleavage of opinion 
between himself and the party, and that therefore it was well that this 
should be acknowledged: he was glad to feel at liberty to take his own 
line, which he could hardly do if he belonged to the inner circle 
Whereupon McKinnon Wood looked thoughtful and not over- 
pleased. They don’t want to break with him. 

July 'ipth , — One or two friends we have seen in a quiet way. A 
Sunday with Cyril Jackson of the Education Department, in his 
agreeable bachelor establishment at Limpsfield — to meet us, Master- 
man and Beveridge (a leading Toynbee-ite), his secretary Napier and a 
young friend of his about to become an Indian civil servant. This 
latter young man (whose name I have forgotten) struck me as typical 
of the coming civil servant. A “ double first ”, clean in looks and mind, 
308 


ARTHUR BALFOUR 


strong-willed but unselfconscious, deprecating enthusiasm, critical of 
ideas and projects, and above all abstemious — given up tobacco, alcohol, 
meat — all because the doctor who passed him for the civil service 
remarked that his organs were not perfectly in good order. What his 
views are one could not tell, since he and Napier sat silent, listening 
to the torrent of discussion between Masterman, Beveridge and our- 
selves — with Jackson intervening as an ofBcial Conservative in a party 
of disputing Progressives. Masterman, an attractive journalist, com- 
bines being a religionist of the high Anglican order with sentimental 
and pessimistic Radicalism — in theory, he is collectivist, by instinct an 
anarchist individualist — above all, he is a rhetorician. Beveridge an 
ugly-mannered but honest, self-devoted, hard-headed young reformer 
of the practical type, came out well in comparison with Masterman; 
and, from disliking him, as we had formerly done, because .of his ugly 
manners, we approved him. There was no hope of the Liberal Party 
in either of these young men; but intense dislike of the Tories, and 
the usual anger with Balfour for remaining in. 

We have slipped into a sort of friendliness with Balfour. He comes 
in to dinner whenever we ask him, and talks most agreeably — 
perhaps our vanity is flattered by his evident interest in our historical 
and philosophical paradoxes and enjoyment of our conversation. I 
have not yet discovered any consistent attitude towards private and 
public life which comes to the surface in dinner-party conversation : 
there is merely a rather weary curiosity as to other people’s processes 
of reasoning and feeling, lit up, now and again, with a very real interest 
in human character — where it is distinguished. The bulk of men bore 
him, whether regarded as individuals or as an electorate, or a Parlia- 
ment, and all the common thoughts and feelings of common folk seem 
to him ineffably banal — fit only for the subject-matter of Bernard 
Shaw’s derisive wit. I raised the question, whether the derision em- 
bodied in "John Bull's Other Island — derision unaccompanied by any 
positive faith or hope — counted for good? He seemed quite surprised 
at my doubt — thought it better to clear away humbug at any cost. I 
suggested that, though I personally loathed both tlie Irish and English 
“ home rule ” shibboleths; — yet, surely, with many Irish home rulers 
and English Liberals, these formulas embodied honest effort towards a 
better state of things? “ Question whether we may not be too in- 
tellectually aristocratic,” I urged, “ whether we may discourage right 
effort because it happens to express itself — not in bad grammar, because 
that is often picturesque, and since board schools somewhat unusual— 
but in fluffy thought and silly sentiment? ” He acquiesced in his 
courteous way, but I could see he was not convinced, 

October ^th . — A week or so disturbed by too much society. First 


309 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

the visit of the French deputies [members of the Paris Municipal 
Council, whom the London County Council had invited]. We cut all 
the parties and I had not even to go to the dinners, while Sidney felt 
obliged to attend. But we had long talks with the brilliant journalist 
quartered on us (Dausset) who suffered our voluble bad French gladly 
for the sake of informing himself as to English society and English 
public opinion. In return, he expounded to us the work of the Paris 
Municipal Council. “ More a debating society, and that disorderly, 
than an administrative body ”, was his verdict. “ When I was president 
I was younger than I am now, and an enthusiast — I imagined that I 
was really going to help to govern Paris. What I gradually discovered 
" was that, whenever I differed from the Prefet de la Seine, I was beaten 
hopelessly by his policy of passive resistance. Everything the council 
proposed to do or not to do was practically under his veto. He always 
refused to discuss the proposed policy when he disliked it. He was 
never ‘ at home never once did I succeed in seeing him.” But this 
not all. Evidently it is the officials of the council who draw up all the 
reports — reports which M. Dausset admitted he seldom read — it is 
officials (many of whom are not removable without the consent of the 
Prefet) who execute all the orders. It would be a somewhat analogous 
position if the L.C.C. had to get most of its work done by the police 
under the Home Office. Then we gathered that all the deputies lived 
in terror of their constituents and he admitted voting for les hitises, 
because he feared to lose his seat. The question arises, why he is a 
member on these conditions. And the general impression left by the 
deputies on their English hosts was that they were individuals “ on the 
make ” and there for other reasons than the good government of Paris. 

Interesting to observe how intensely nervous all were about Ger- 
' many — anxious to ascertain whether we genuinely intended to back 
them up in case of German aggression. 

Mary Playne came up for ten days; and, knowing she liked to see 
folk, I took the opportunity to ask people to dine. George Trevelyan 
and his wife — excellent and interesting young people, with the charm 
of a strenuous and conscientious life and considerable talent, spent an 
evening alone with us. Among the young Liberals he is the most 
promising, because he has some conviction and a fervent desire for 
more. He is to spend the next years of his life in a history of England, 
1790-1810, which is to be the glorification of Fox and rehabilitation 
of the F rench Revolution — one would think a somewhat conventional 
and banal task — z. modernised replica of his father’s book. Still, he has 
enthusiasm and industry, and that is better than paradoxical originality 
without those qualities. 

On Sunday afternoon G. B. S. and Granville-Barker dropped in and 
.310 


SOCIAL LIFE 


spread out before us the difficulties, the hopes, the ridiculous aspects of 
their really arduous efforts to create an intellectual drama, Granville- 
Barker has suddenly filled out — he looks even physically larger than a 
year ago — he has grown extraordinarily in dignity and knowledge of 
human nature. But he dislikes the absorption in mere acting and longs 
to mix with persons actually in affairs or intellectually producing. 
G. B. S.’s egotism and vanity are not declining; he is increasing his 
deftness of wit and phrase, but becoming every day more completely 
iconoclastic — the ideal derider. In the evening we dined with the 
Courtneys. On Monday John Burns and Mrs. J. R. Green dropped 
in about 7 o’clock and stayed to share with Mary and ourselves half a 
pheasant! They talked at each other — Alice raging against the Liberals 
— John raging against the priest. Incidentally, Burns showed his dislike 
of the notion of a larger Labour Party, and his rooted suspicion of even 
his present colleagues. Keir Hardie, Crooks and Henderson “ would 
all be out of Parliament ” if he were providence. It is pitiful to see the 
lack of any good comradeship between these men. 

On Tuesday, there dined with us Wernher (the South African 
capitalist), a heavy, good-natured, public-spirited and scientific-minded 
millionaire, Lord Lytton, Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Prothero (the 
mates of these three were ill) — a somewhat crooked party, that was 
only straightened out by sheer energy on my part into a comfortable 
affair. Wernher stumbled heavily along in his broken German, G. B. S. 
scintillated, Mrs. Prothero listened with Irish scepticism of Irish 
wit. Lord Lytton hung on G. B. S.’s words — looking the beautiful, 
fastidious young artist-aristocrat — a party of interesting types, but not 
mixing well. Meanwhile, I had got note after note from the Duchess 
of Marlborough who apparently has been seized with a whim to hear 
Sidney lecture and get us to dine with them afterwards. It would have 
been discourteous to refuse — so there was another evening of talk — 
the other guests being George Peel and Mrs. Craigie (John Oliver 
Hobbes). The Duke and Duchess corresponded exactly to the account 
given of them by the private secretary during our visit to Blenheim — 
somewhat futile young persons floating aimlessly on the surface of 
society, both alike quite unfit for their great position, swayed to and fro 
by somewhat silly motives — ^neither good nor bad. The little Duke is, 
I should imagine, mildly vicious — the Duchess has charm and, I think, 
goodness. I wondered how he came to be dragged by his wife to a 
technical lecture, and into entertaining two dowdy, middle-aged, 
middle-class intellectuals uncomfortably at a restaurant — for quite 
obviously they had come up to London on purpose. Was it G. B. S. 
they were after? They reminded us of H. G. Wells’ “little white 
people ” in The Time Machine. 


3 ” 



THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

On Friday we had a really entertaining and useful party — Lord 
Milner, the Morants, the Albert Grays, Mackinder and Alfred Cripps. 
This was a real success, everyone was glad to meet the otheis, and the 
conversation was sustained in subject as well as bright, I had a long 
talk with Milner after dinner. He has grown grim and (perhaps 
temporarily) bitter — obsessed too with a vision of a non-party Govern- 
ment without having invented any device for securing it. His grirnness 
may be the result of fatigue and lonely work — with a life among 
friends and after rest, it may work off. His thesis is that the war itself, 
the dragging out of it, the unsatisfactory character of the settlement, 
the barely averted disaster — ^all were the result of the party system 
which forced half the political world to be against him. He is sufficient 
of a fanatic not to see that there was a genuine cleavage of opinion 
among the thinking people — that it was not merely a knot of cranks 
that disapproved his policy. He would take colonial affairs “ out of 
politics ”, but he does not suggest how. He is a strong man and an 
intensely public-spirited man — but he is harder and more intolerant, 
more distinctively the bureaucrat than when he left England. And he 
is sore, and bitter to opponents — not a good state of mind with which 
to enter politics. A little religion, or a purely intellectual pursuit, or 
perhaps some emotional companionship, is needed if he is to get back 
his sanity — his sense of proportion. So ended our week’s dissipation. 
On all but one day I managed to work, though the sleeplessness which 
always follows on talking late made the work of poor quality. This 
next week has to be diverted to preparing my lecture — so alas! the 
book will be hung up. 

The smart world is tumbling over one another in the worship of 
G. B. S,, and even we have a sort of reflected glory as his intimate 
friends. It is interesting to note that the completeness of his self-conceit 
will save him from the worst kind of deterioration — he is proof against 
flattery. Where it will injure him is in isolating him from serious 
intercourse with intimate friends working in other departments of life 
— whenever he is free there is such a crowd of journalists and literary 
hangers-on around him that one feels it is kinder to spare him one’s 
company — and that will be the instinct of many of his old friends 
engaged in administration, investigation or propaganda. 

What a transformation scene from those first years I knew him: 
the scathing bitter opponent of wealth and leisure — and now! the 
adored one of the siriartest and most cynical set of English “ society ”. 
Some might say that we, too, had travelled in that direction: our good 
sense preserve us! Fortunately, the temptation is at present slight and 
quite easily evaded. Curiosity about us is quickly satisfied and the smart 
ones subside, after one interview, into indifference. And Sidney steadily 

312 


SOCIAL LIFE 


discourages my more sociable nature, “ By all means 'be courteous but 
keep clear of them ” is his perpetual refrain, in tone, if not in words. 
He is a blessed mate for me. 

November lyd . — Appointed to the Royal Commission on the Poor 
Law: awaiting anxiously the names of my colleagues — Charles Booth 
being the only one I know of. 

Y esterday evening we dined with Lord Lucas (Bron Herbert that 
was) in his great mansion in St. James’s Square; Mrs. Willie Grenfell, 
and Mrs. Lindsay, flippant but clever little lady, and a pleasant young 
Tory lawyer made up the party. Our host interests me as the son of my 
dear old friend Auberon Herbert; as a boy, I remember he eyed me 
with hostility, when I came to stay with his lather twenty years ago — 
perhaps he thought I was going to become his stepmother! But, since 
he has come into the political world, first as a young Liberal candidate, 
now as a peer, he has cultivated our friendship. He is an attractive 
creature, dreamy and vague, with a charming veracity and gentleness 
of nature, with (for a grand seigneur) simple tastes and ways, and public- 
spirited and philanthropic impulses — the sort of ideal young aristocrat 
pictured in Bulwer Lytton’s novels. But, from our point of view, he 
is no good. He is steeped in his father’s individualist philosophy (he is 
a mere child in knowledge and thought on social and economic ques- 
tions) and the only direction in which he has broken away from his 
father’s influence is in the desire for an Empire- — dragged thither by 
the Rosebery and millionaire associates among whom he lives. More- 
over, he has no notion of work; he has great possessions and a most 
attractive personality. I fear that he must be written off as useless 
though not dangerous. His cousin, Mrs. Willie Grenfell, struck me 
last night as something more than the fashionable and pretty woman I 
took her to be. But, when I sat with her and the other smart little 
woman in that palatial room, I felt a wee bit ashamed of myself. Why 
was I dissipating my energy in this smart but futile world in late hours 
and small talk? Exactly at the moment this feeling was disconcerting 
me, the door opened and Mr. Balfour was announced. I confess that 
the appearance of the P.M. dissipated my regrets. It is always worth 
while, I thought, to meet those who really have power to alter things — 
should I be on the Poor Law Commission (the tempter said) if it were 
not for my friendship with this great one? And I collapsed into com- 
placency. He was looking excited and fagged, on the eve of resignation. 

chatted over the fire — Mrs. Grenfell, he and I — in a disjointed 
fashion until twelve o’clock, when Sidney and I left the tiny party to 
talk, perhaps more intimately. 

November 29/i^.— Yesterday A, J. B. lunched with us, and went 

313 


THE LONDON EDUCATION ACT AND AFTER 

afterwards to G. B. S.’s new play Major Barbara. The vanishing 
Prime Minister was looking particularly calm and happy — compared 
to six months or even six days ago; seemed like one with a load lifted 
off his mind. Quite unexpectedly the conversation drifted on to the 
whole underlying argument of the tariff question — the possibility of 
continuous exports, should a prohibition tariff, say, I00% be raised 
against us by the whole world. Though apparently dead against 
ordinary protection as unsound, he seems haunted by a somewhat 
theoretical fear of universal hostile discriminatioir against us. I think 
he accepts the rate of exchange reaction as a solution of the ordinary 
tariff war when each country blindly raises walls against all other 
countries, whilst insisting on importing from other countries. But, in 
that extreme case, he had the support of even Sidney. He cross- 
examined Sidney as to the rise in the price of commodities brought 
about by a tariff, and discussed the whole matter with perfect frankness 
and ease. Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Rucker, and a nice young 
Conservative lawyer — L.C.C. — were the party; after lunch he asked 
somewhat anxiously who the young man was, and looked reassured 
when I told him he was of the right colour. On the way to the play 
he told me “ as a friend ” all his difficulties with the Royal Commission 
— his refusal to have any politicians, and difficulty on finding a chair- 
man. “ George Hamilton is not the fool he looks ”, he apologetically 
explained. 

G. B. S.’s play turned out to be a dance of devils — amazingly clever, 
grimly powerful in the second act — but ending, as all his plays end 
(or at any rate most of them), in an intellectual and moral morass. 
A. J. B. was taken aback by the force, the horrible force of the 
Salvation Army scene, the unrelieved tragedy of degradation, the dis- 
illusionment of the Greek professor and of Barbara — the triumph of 
the unmoral purpose; the anti-climax of evangelising the Garden City! 

I doubt the popular success of the play: it is hell tossed on the stage — 
with no hope of heaven. G. B. S. is gambling with ideas and emotions 
in a way that distresses slow-minded prigs like Sidney and me, and 
hurts those with any fastidiousness. But the stupid public will stand a 
good deal from one who is acclaimed as an unrivalled wit by the great 
ones of the world. 

December 2nd. — To-day, I called on the Shaws and found G. B. S. 
alone in his study. He was perturbed — indeed, upset by the bad acting, 
as he thought, of Undershaft and generally of all in the last scene — 
and by a virulent attack on the play in the Morning Bast. Calvert, he 
said, had completely lost his nerve over Undershaft — could not under- 
stand or remember his part and was aghast at what he considered its 
blank immorality. I spoke quite frankly my opinion of the general 

314 


“major BARBARA” 

effect of his play — the triumph of the unmoral purpose. He argued 
earnestly and cleverly, even persuasively, in favour of what he imagines 
to be his central theme — the need for preliminary good physical environ- 
ment before anything could be done to raise the intelligence and morality of 
the average sensual man. “ We middle-class people, having always had 
physical comfort and good order, do not realise the disaster to character 
in being without. We have, therefore, cast a halo round poverty, 
instead of treating it as the worst of crimes — the one unforgiveable 
crime that must be wiped off before any virtue can grow,” He defended 
Undershaft’s general attitude towards life on the ground that, until we 
divested ourselves of feeling (he said malice), we were not fit to go the 
lengths needed for social salvation. “ What we want is for the people 
to turn round and burn, not the West End, but their own slums. The 
Salvation Army with its fervour and its love might lead them to do 
this and then we really should be at the beginning of the end of the 
crime of poverty.” 

I found it difEcult to answer him — ^but he did not convince me. 
There is something lacking in his presentment of the crime of poverty. 
But I could honestly sympathise with his irritation at the suggested 
intervention of the censor — not on account of the upshot of the play, 
but because Barbara in her despair at the end of the second act utters 
the cry, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ”. A wonder- 
ful and quite rational climax to the true tragedy of the scene of the 
Salvation Army shelter. 

Meanwhile, Governments are changing in England and govern- 
ment of any sort is coming to an end in Russia. 


315 


CHAPTER Vi: 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 
AND THE RELIEF OF DISTRESS 
1905-1909 

Two events are casually noted in the concluding pages of 
the foregoing chapter: the one of outstanding national 
importance — the advent of the Liberal Government in 
December 1905; and the other of major significance in 
the life story of Our Partnership — my appointment, in 
November of the same year, to serve on the Royal Com- 
mission on the Poor Law and the Relief of Distress. Seeing 
that this book is, in the main, an autobiography and only 
incidentally material for British political history, I shall give 
premier place to the day-to-day working of this remarkable 
public enquiry ending in the publication, in January 1909, 
of the Majority and Minority Reports of the Royal Com- 
mission of 1905-9. In this recital will be included entries 
relating to our continued personal investigation into English 
local government, leading to the publication of three 
volumes during these very years; a ponderous volume on 
The Parish and the County in 1 906, and two volumes on The 
Manor and the Borough in 1908. Hence this chapter is closely 
linked up with Chapter IV. describing our enquiry into 
English local government from the seventeenth century 
onwards. For it was, I venture to think, exactly this con- 
tinuous six years’ hard work on our own account, from 1899 
to 1 905, that qualified us to see further into the past, present 
and possible future of that unique institution — the English 
Poor Law — than was practicable to some of my colleagues. 
For the rest, the reader will find in the following pages a 
veritable hodge-podge of diary entries, relating to the Other 
One’s activities on the L.C.C., the Senate of London Uni- 
versity, the Technical Education Board and the London 
School of Economics, together with chance characterisa- 

316 


THE OLD POOR LAW 

tions of our social and political environment, intermingled 
with my own meditations on the destiny of mankind. 

Why did the Prime Minister (Arthur Balfour), at the 
close of the session of 1905, announce in reply to an evi- 
dently prearranged question in the House of Commons, 
that the Government had come to the conclusion that the 
time had come for a full enquiry into the whole question, 
adding with significance that there had been no such 
enquiry since that of 1832-34.? Why did the Cabinet, on the 
very eve of its resignation, put itself to the trouble of choos- 
ing the members of a large and representative Royal Com- 
mission; and charge it “ to enquire into (i) the working of 
the laws relating to the relief of poor persons in the United 
Kingdom; (2) the various means which have been adopted 
outside of the poor laws for meeting distress arising from 
want of employment, particularly during periods of severe 
industrial depression; and to consider and report whether 
any, and if so what, modification of the poor laws, or changes 
in their administration, or fresh legislation for dealing with 
distress, are advisable ”.? 

Our own impression at the time was that the Commission 
owed its creation to the coincidence of there being, as newly 
appointed head of the poor law division, an energetic man 
of affairs (James Stewart Davy) intent on reaction ; and, as 
President of the Local Government Board, a philosopher 
(Mr. Gerald Balfour) who recognised the public advantage of 
a precise discrimination between opposing principles. There 
was, in fact, in official circles, an uneasy feeling that there 
had been, during the last two decades, an unwilling drift 
away from the principles of 1834, and one which sooner or 
later had to be decisively stopped. 

The underlying principles advocated by the Royal Com- 
mission on the Poor Law of 1832 and embodied straight 
away in the Poor Law Atnendment Act of 1834, are here- 
with summarised U 

> For a further and inore elaborate description of the principles of 1834, see 
English Poor Law Policy, by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, published in 1910. This 
book was an enlargement and completion of the report which I circulated to the 

317 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 

(1) That the public relief of destitution out of funds raised by 
taxation — as distinguished from the alms of the charitable — devitalised 
the recipients, degraded their character and induced in them general 
bad behaviour. 

(2) That the operation of the Malthusian law of population, 
accentuated by the theory of a wage fund, rendered all such relief, not 
only futile in diminishing the miseries of the poor, but actually harmful 
in the creation of a wider pool of destitution, 

(3) That it was imperative for a department of the national govern- 
ment to direct and control the actions of the local authorities concerned 
so as to impose on them a policy which would diminish, if not abolish, 
the disease of pauperism. 

Hence, the famous principle of “ less eligibility Out . 
of these ardently held assumptions, springing from this 
tenaciously held principle of “ less eligibility ”, sprang the 
officially recognised policy of the Local Government Board 
from 1834 to 1905. 

The first and most essential of all conditions, the Com- 
missioners of 1832^34 tell us: “A principle which we find 
universally admitted, even by those whose practice is at 
variance with it, is, that his [the able-bodied person’s] situa- 
tion, on the whole, shall not be made really or apparently so 
eligible as the situation of the independent labourer of the 
lowest class. Throughout the evidence it is shown that, in 
proportion as the condition of any pauper class is elevated 
above the condition of independent labourers, the condition 
of the independent class is depressed; their industry is 
impaired, their employment becomes unsteady, and its 
remuneration in wages is diminished. Such persons, there- 
fore, are under the strongest inducements to quit the less 
eligible class of labourers and enter the more eligible class 
of paupers. . . . Whole branches of manufacture ” [to cite 
a much-quoted passage] ” may thus follow the course, not 
of coal mines or of streams, but of pauperism ; may flourish 
like the funguses that spring frorn corruption, in conse- 
quence of the abuses which are ruining all the other interests 

Commission in July 1907, on the poor law policy of the Central Authority from 
1834 to 1905, and which is referred to in the diary entries. 

See also History of the English Poor Lmo in two volumes, by Sidney and Beatrice 
Webb. 


318 


THE OLD POOR LAW 

of the places in which they are established, and to cease to 
exist in the better administered districts, in consequence of 
that better administration.” The converse is the effect when 
the pauper class is placed in its proper position, below the 
condition of the independent labourer. In short, by making 
the alternative plainly penal, the whip of starvation was to 
be placed securely in the hands of the employers. 

The second principle insisted on by the Report of 1834 is 
the principle of “ national uniformity ” — that is, of identity 
of treatment of each class of destitute person from one end 
of the kingdom to the other, for the purpose of reducing the 
perpetual shifting from parish to parish, of preventing dis- 
content, and of bringing the parochial management effectu- 
ally under the control of a government department carrying 
out the principles of 1834. The third principle, commonly 
known as the “ workhouse system ”, that is the complete 
substitution of indoor for outdoor relief, was no part of the 
recommendations of the 1834 Report for any but the able- 
bodied. It was, however, adopted by the strictest of the 
reformers of 1834-47, and again by those of 1871-85, as 
the only effective method of applying the principles of less 
eligibility and of reducing pauperism. The workhouse, on 
this principle, was not to be regarded as a place of long- 
continued residence, still less as an institution for beneficial 
treatment, but primarily (if not exclusively) as a “ test of 
destitution ”, that is, as a means of affording the actual 
necessities of existence under conditions so deterrent that 
the pauper would rather prefer to maintain himself inde- 
pendently than accept the relief so offered. 

So much, or rather so little, about the principles under- 
lying English poor law policy during the seventy years pre- 
ceding 1905. Now let us consider the make-up of the Royal 
Commission of 1905-9. Like its predecessor in 1934, it 
was to a marked degree a reforming commission, but unlike 
the Poor Law Commission of 1832-34, that of 1905—9 was 
largely composed of persons who had actually taken part in 
the administration of the poor law. There were on it no 
fewer than five guardians of the poor, four of whom were, 

319 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 
or had been, chairmen of their boards.^ Even more influ- 
ential was the presence of the permanent heads of the Local 
Government Boards of England, Scotland and Ireland 
respectively, who were personally directing the poor law 
administration of the three countries, together with the 
senior medical inspector of the English poor law division.^ 
These nine experienced poor law administrators were re- 
inforced by half-a-dozen prominent members of the Charity 
Organisation Society, all of whom began the enquiry as 
convinced adherents of the principles of 1834.; notably, the 
Society’s general secretary, C. S. Loch; one of its founders. 
Miss Octavia Hill ; and two other distinguished exponents 
of its doctrines, Mr. Hancock Nunn and Mrs. Bernard 
Bosanquet.3 There were two political economists, belonging 
to what was then called the orthodox school. Professor 
William Smart of Glasgow and the Rev. L. R. Phelps of 
Oxford. With the Rev. Prebendary Russell Wakefield, after- 
wards Bishop of Birmingham, the Church of England had 
three representatives, and the Roman Catholic Church in 
Ireland one (the Bishop of Ross).'^ This predominantly 
composition of the Commission was emphasised by 
the appointment of a Conservative ex-Cabinet Minister as 
chairman: Lord George Hamilton. Out of the twenty mem- 
bers; there were only three who belonged to the Labour and 
Socialist movements — Mr. George Lansbury, and Mr. 
Francis Chandler (general secretary of the old-established 
Amalgamated Society of Carpenters), and myself. But the 
unique characteristic of this Commission was the inclusion 
in it of members who had proved their capacity for the work 
of social investigation. There was Charles Booth,^ who 

* The poor law guardians were F. H. Benthatn, George Lansbury, T. Hancock 
Nunn, the Rev. L. R. Phelps aud F. Chandler (subsequently added to represent the 
trade union movement). 

* Sir S. B. Provis, K.C.B., J. Patten-MacDougall, C.B., Sir Henry Robinson, 
K.C.B., and Dr. A. H. (now Sir Arthur), Downes. 

3 The C.O-S. members included the above-mentioned together with Rev. T. G. 
Gardiner and the Rev. L. R, Phelps. 

“k The Bishop of Ross p 3 r. KeEy) was added to the Commission in place of the 
O’ Conor Don, who died in 1906. 

5 The Right Honourable Charles Booth (1840-1917), shipowner and merchant, 
had devoted many years of thought and work,, and large drafts upon his income,, to 

J 2 D- 


LORD GEORGE HAMILTON 
might be termed the inventor of one of the leading methods 
of sociological research; there were the ablest members of 
the Charity Organisation Society — a society whose activities 
were avowedly based, in a far-reaching survey of social 
results, on exhaustive enquiry into individual cases; and 
there was one of the leading researchers of the Fabian 
Society, The Commission was, in fact, predominantly a body 
of experts, either in poor law administration or social in- 
vestigation, Indeed, one of the few members of the Com- 
mission who had neither an extensive knowledge of the 
subject, nor experience in research, was its chairman, Lord 
George Hamilton. Fortunately for the amenity of the Com- 
mission’s internal life, and perhaps even for its efficiency 
as an instrument of research, this experienced politician 
and attractive grand seigneur combined exceptional personal 
charm and social tact with an open mind and a willingness 
to give free play to the activities of his fellow-commissioners. 
Regarded as an instrument of reform, what the Commission 
seemed to lack was the guiding hand of an experienced 
lawyer, who might have kept the enquiry strictly within the 
terms of reference, and insisted on all evidence being brought 
before the Commission as a whole, and tested by some 
common standard of relevance and validity; and who might, 
in the end, have negotiated a unanimous report on all those 
issues — and there proved to be many — upon which there 
was common agreement,' 

statistical investigation of social conditions, for which he had a passion, and in 
which he became an inventor of a new technique. Public recognition of his achieve- 
ments came in a privy councillorship, a fellowship of the Royal Society, and doctor- 
ates of the Universities of Liverpool, Oxford and Cambridge, For his life, see Charles 
Booth~A Memoir, 1918 (by his widow); and for an account of his great work. Life 
and Labour of the People in London, 17 vols., 1902 (of which the first volume in the 
original edition had been published in 1889), see My Apprenticeship, by Beatrice 
Webb, 1926, chap, v., “ A Grand Inquest into the Condition of the People of 
London ”, up. 216-56. 

I may add that he had married my cousin Mary Macaulay, daughter of Charles 
Macaulay, a distinguished civil servant and brother of the historian, hence my 
intimate connection with this great enquiry into the condition of the people of 
London. 

1 The Poor Law Commission of 1905-9 exceeded, in the volume of published 
proceedings, memoranda, reports and (especially) statistics, even the Poor Law 
Inquiry Commission of 1832-34. Besides the lengthy Majority and Minority 
Reports (Cd, 4625)— -these were also published in three octavo volumes from which 

321 Y 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 

The entries in the diary revealing the activities of the 
Royal Commission open in the first days of December 
1905. 

December ^nd. — A pleasant visit to Gracedieu colloguing in the 
old way with Charles Booth as to the proper course of the poor law 
enquiry. I had extracted from Davy, the assistant secretary of the 
L.G.B., in a little interview I had had with him, the intention of the 
L.G.B. officials as to the purpose and procedure they intended to be 
followed by the Commission. They were going to use us to get certain 
radical reforms of structure; the boards of guardians were to be swept 
away, judicial officers appointed and possibly the institutions trans- 
ferred to the county authorities. With all of which I am inclined to 
agree. But we were also to recommend reversion to the principles of 
1834 as regards policy; to stem the tide of philanthropic impulse that 
was sweeping away the old embankment of deterrent tests to the 
receipt of relief. Though I think the exact form in which this impulse 
has clothed itself is radically wrong and mischievous, yet I believe in 
the impulse, if it takes the right forms. It is just this vital question of 
what and which forms are right that I want to discover and this Com- 
mission to investigate. Having settled the conclusions to which we are 
to be led, the L.G.B. officials (on and off the Commission) have pre- 
determined the procedure. We were to be spoon-fed by evidence care- 
fully selected and prepared; they were to draft the circular to the board 
of guardians; they were to select the inspectors who tyere to give 
evidence; they were virtually to select the guardians to be called in 
support of this evidence. Assistant commissioners were to be appointed 
who were to collect evidence illustrative of these theories. And above 
all we were to be given opinions and not facts. Charles Booth and I 
consulted what line we should take. To-day at lunch I put Lansbury 
(the working-man on the Commission) on his guard against this policy. 

At the first meeting this afternoon, Lord George laid the scheme 
before us: the circular had been drafted, the witnesses had been selected, 
the assistant commissioner had almost been appointed: it remained for 
us to ratify. Fortunately, the scheme did not meet with approval and 

our quotations are taken — ^there were issued no fewer than 47 folio volumes of 
appendices ending with a specially elaborate “ General Consolidated Index ” of 
1086 pages. For Scotland (Cd. 4922) and Ireland (Cd. 4630) there were also Majority 
and Minority Reports. 

The Commission was greatly aided in its work by the ability and devotion of its 
secretariat, notably by its secretary, R. G. DulF, then an assistant general inspector, 
and subsequently a general inspector of the Loesd Government Board (now Ministry 
of Health); and by its assistant secretary, John Jeffrey, then in the Scottish Local 
Government Board and subsequently secretary to the Scottish Health Insurance 
Commission and afterwards Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Health Department. 

322 


DIVERSITY OF AIM 


was virtually defeated j the only point settled on is the calling of the 
experts of the L.G.B. for which we are all quite prepared. I suggested 
all the inspectors should be called, a suggestion to which Lord George 
made no answer. And no other commissioner supported me at the time 
— but the seed had fallen on some prepared ground. It will need all my 
self-command to keep myself from developing a foolish hostility, and 
becoming self-conscious in my desire to get sound investigation. 
Certainly, the work of the Commission will be an education in manners 
as well as in poor law. I was not over pleased with my tone this after- 
noon and must try to do better. Beware of showing off superior know- 
ledge of irrelevant detail. To be single-minded in pursuit of truth, 
courteous in manner, and kind in feeling — and yet not to betray one’s 
trust for the sake of popularity and be modestly persistent in my aim 
must be my prayer. Meanwhile, we must get on with the book and 
not sacrifice our own work to what, at least, can only be co-operation 
in a joint task with seventeen persons, with almost as many aims — and, 
therefore, certain to be a partial failure. 

But how interesting will be this conflict of wills. I will certainly 
describe it as it goes along. For instance, there are four big officials on 
the Commission, two from England, one each from Ireland and Scot- 
land respectively. The Englisli officials think they are going to direct 
and limit the enquiry, the Scotch and Irish officials told us pretty 
plainly that they did not want any enquiry, and they had already 
investigated the whole subject by departmental committees! And as 
there were no Irish and Scotch representatives of the anti-official view 
the enquiry into Irish and Scotch poor law has been indefinitely 
postponed, and will probably hardly take place. On the other hand, 
Charles Booth and I want a real investigation of English administration 
as well as an examination into pauperism, though C. B. is more con- 
cerned with the question of right treatment than of prevention by 
better-regulated life. Lansbury, on the other hand, is willing and 
anxious to enquire into the initial causes of pauperism, not so keen to 
Investigate the effect of different methods of relief. C. S. Loch wants to 
drag in the whole question of endowed charity, in which he has the 
support of Mrs. Bernard Bosanquet. She and I, and possibly Miss 
Octavia Hill, may combine on the question of a rate-in-aid of wages 
to women workers — the need for discovering how far it actually obtains 
— and there will be a good deal of common ground, as far as the enquiry 
goes,, between Loch and myself Certain other commissionei-s such as 
Smart and Phelps are going to look on, I think, and intervene as the 
spirit moves them. 

December i^th. — Certainly, the procedure imposed on us by Lord 
George was amazing. There was no agenda; a cut and dried scheme 

323 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 
was laid before us, we were not asked to vote on it, only to express our 
opinion on half-a-dozen points ranging from the hour of luncheon to 
the appointment of assistant commissioners. The only subject really 
discussed was the issue of the preliminary circular to the boards of 
guardians. On this point there was almost unanimity against the course 
proposed. Whereupon Lord George called up, out of the Commission, 
the guardians of the poor; and we left these five persons under the 
chairman’s eye, sitting discussing the matter. Yesterday, I got a formal 
announcement that unless the commissioners dissented by post the 
circulars would be sent out. 

This was rather intolerable. I wrote a courteous but firm dissent 
and enigmatically suggested that I wished for some procedure that 
would enable those who objected to record that objection. I did not 
stop there. I went and unburdened my soul to the secretary, Mr. Duff. 
He is an attractive and sensible young civil servant, who gave me to 
understand that he had been against Lord George’s high-handed action. 
So I elaborately complained to him of the absence of agenda, of concrete 
resolutions, of any formal appointment and authorisation of the com- 
mittee; and I claimed to have a formal procedure in future; with the 
circulation of all proposals, of the names of witnesses, of the precis of 
their evidence. Apparently, our chairman had decided against all those 
suggestions on the ground that “ we should know too much ”! “I 
don’t want to make myself disagreealile,” I ventured to add; “ it is 
extraordinarily unpleasant for a woman to do so on a commission of 
men. But I don’t, on the other hand, intend to hide my intentions. If a 
procedure and methods of investigation are adopted or slipped into the 
Commission, which I think incompetent to elicit the truth, it will be 
my obvious duty to report such procedure and to describe and analyse 
such methods one by one. To enable me to do this, without incurring 
a charge of bad comradeship, I must express, clearly and emphatically, 
my dissent. That is why I asked for a formal procedure for the business 
of the Commission.” I begged Mr. Duff to report the gist of the con- 
versation to Lord George. I await the result with some amusement, 
and a little anxiety. It is a new experience for me to have to make 
myself disagreeable in order to reach my ends. In private life, one can 
only get one’s way by being unusually pleasant. In official life — ^at least 
as the most insignificant member of a Commission overwhelmingly 
against me in opinion— I shall only get my share of control by quietly 
and persistently standing on my rights as an individual commissioner 
and refusing altogether to be overawed by great personages who would 
like to pooh-pooh a woman who attempts to share in the control of 
affairs. 

Whilst I am busy with my little teacup of a Royal Commission, a 


324 


THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT 


new Ministry has been formed i [I write on December 15, 1905J. It is 
a strong Government and felt to be so. All the possible actors have been 
included, and the parts have been skilfully allotted. Our friends the 
“ Limps ” have romped in to the leading posts under Campbell- 
Bannerman j Morley and Bryce being marooned on India and Ireland 
respectively. To put Asquith and Lloyd George and Winston Churchill 
dead in front of Joe on the tariff and the colonies; to place John Burns 
to look to the unemployed; to give Birreil the Education Office; are 
all apt placements. But the great coup is to get Haldane to take the 
War Office — the courtly lawyer with a great capacity for dealing with 
men and affairs, and a real understanding of the function of an expert, 
and skill in using him. 

Two of the new Cabinet have already come in to talk over their 
new life. The very day of his introduction to the Cabinet, John Burns 
arrived, childishly delighted with his own post. For one solid hour he 
paced the room expanding his soul before me — how he had called in 
the permanent officials, asked them questions, “ That is my decision, 
gentlemen ”, he proudly rehearsed to me once or twice. “ Don’t be too 
doctrinaire about the unemployed, Mr. Burns ”, I mildly suggested, 
“ Economise your great force of honesty, Mrs. Webb,” he rejoined 
solemnly, “ I am a different man from what I was a week ago. You 
read what I say to-morrow when I stand by C. B. at the deputation. 
You will see I shan’t give myself away.” What he and the big officials 
will do with each other remains to be seen. To listen to him talking 
one would think he was hopelessly confused and blurred in his views 
and intentions. His best chance will be to refuse to be overwhelmed 
with routine administration, to devote himself to one or two points, 
and strike dramatic effects in one or two unconventional decisions. A 
sort of working-class Roosevelt is his role. The story goes that, when 
C. B. offered him the L.G.B. with a seat in the Cabinet, he clasped 
the Premier by the hand. “ I congratulate you. Sir Henry: it will be the 
most popular appointment that you have made.” 

Yesterday afternoon Haldane came in. He also was in a state, of 

' Campbell-Bannerman accepted office on December 5, 1905. The Cabinet he 
formed included the leading Liberal Leaguers and the leading pro-Boers. Among 
the former were Asquith as Chancellor of the Exchequer; Grey as Foreign Secre- 
tary; Haldane as Secretary for War; together with Sydney Buxton, Post Office. 
Among the pro-Boers were Reid, afterwards Lord Loreburn, as Lord Chancellor; 
John Morley as Secretary for India; John Burns, Local Government Board; Lloyd 
George, Board of Trade; whilst Reginald McKenna, Winston Churchill, Herbert 
Samuel, Walter Runciman, appeared as under-secretaries. In the general election 
beginning January 12, 1906, the Liberals obtained 377 seats, a majority of 84 over 
all other parties combined. The Conservatives and Liberal Unionists secured only 
157, the Irish Nationalists S3, and Labour members, 24 supporting the Liberal 
Party, and 29 styling themselves the Labour Party, with their own organisation and 
their own whips. 


325 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 
exuberant delight over his new task. “ I chose the War Office out of 
tliree offices. Asquith, Grey and I stood together; they were forced to 
take us on our own terms. We were really very indifferent,” he added 
sublimely, “ Asquith gave up a brief of ,£10,000 to defend the Khedive’s 
property that very week; I was throwing away an income of ,£15,000 
to £20,000 a year; and Grey had no ambition and was sacrificing his 
fishing. But it was a horrid week — one perpetual wrangle. The King 
signified that he would like me to take the War Office; it is exactly 
what I myself longed for. I have never been so happy in my life ”, 
and he beamed all over. And then he poured into my sympathetic ear 
all his plans. “ I shall spend three years observing and thinking. I shall 
succeed: I have always succeeded in everything I have undertaken.” 
I confess I was a little surprised at the naivetd of this last remark. 
Alas! what hideous failures the wisest of us makes. But, of course, it 
was meiely the foam of his excited self-complacency, in the first 
novelty of power. He came straight from a whole day talking over 
matters with Arnold-Forster [preceding Secretary for War] — a 
thoroughly English proceeding, showing the essential solidarity of the 
governing class. 

The lower ranks of the Government are filled with young men 
we know, or have known. Herbert Samuel, an old friend . . . has made 
a surprising advance in obtaining the under-secretaryship of the Home 
Office, leaving poor C. P. Trevelyan behind. Lough, McKenna, 
Ilunciman, all friendly acquaintances. We gather that as regards the 
non-Cabinet offices there is a sort of panel constructed by the Prime 
Minister, from which the Cabinet Ministers select subordinates for 
their respective offices. Burns said he had selected Runciman out of 
those submitted to him — ^Trevelyan and Jack Tennant being the other 
two — so there is still a chance for C. P. For some mysterious reason, 
Macnamara has refused office: it is said he could not afford to take an 
inferior berth or give up the editorship of the Schoolmaster-, and he was 
offered no position equal to his expectations, and in that sense he is a 
disappointed man. 

A satisfactory interview with the chairman of our Commission, 
arranged by the secretary whom I apparently alarmed by my rebellious 
attitude. For a whole hour I listened to his somewhat weak proposals, 
quietly insisting on a regular procedure, the appointment of a com- 
mittee to consider and report on methods of investigation and the 
concentration of our efforts on ascertaining the facts about the relief of 
destitution, and not merely collecting casual opinions as to defects in 
law and practice. I felt strengthened by the fact that Sidney had helped 
me to draft a series of concrete proposals which I succeeded in making 
him ask me for. What upset his aristocratic mind was the notion that 

326 


PROCEDURE 


the Commission should appoint its own committees and regulate its 
own procedure. “ I saw the democratic method worked out on the 
• London School Board when I was chairman,” he naively remarked, 
“ and I was not impressed with its results.” I tried to convince him that 
consent was a preliminary requirement to efficiency. “ Moreover,” I 
urged, “ you will find that you practically appoint the committees even 
if you submit the names formally to the Commission; it may be that 
one or two others will be added, but when the first flush of energy has 
exhausted itself we shall suffer not from too large but too small a 
membership of the working committee.” So we chatted on, getting 
more and more friendly. “ You must remember. Lord George, that 
we are all rather awed by om grand seigneur chairman,” was my parting 
shot, “ and with a nondescript body like the Commission awe some- 
times gets transformed into suspicion of being bossed. With a per- 
tinacious spirit like C. S. Loch, for instance, this feeling might have 
inconvenient results.” 

Meanwhile, I have sent my suggestions to one or two of the com- 
missioners; and have had a most friendly chat with Loch who, so far 
as investigation goes, will, I think, be a sturdy ally. 

1906 

January (^th. — Second meeting of Commission went off well. The 
chairman introduced the motion for a committee on procedure and 
methods of investigation: Charles Booth (to whom I had sent my 
suggestions) backed it up: Loch somewhat demurred, Mrs. Bernard 
Bosanquet objected, seeing, I think, an insidious proposal of mine 
which would give the London members and the experts in investiga- 
tion complete control over the Commission. But the Commission on 
the whole was favourable. At any rate, I have made friends with the 
chairman, and shall now be careful not to excite the jealousy of those 
who feel themselves opposed to me in doctrine. The C.O.S. are far 
more suspicious of me than I am of them. I believe that they do want 
investigation and should be glad if we could co-operate against those 
who do not. But I see that, at first at any rate, they will keep both 
Charles Booth and me at arm’s length. C. B. made a useful suggestion 
that no one, need cross-examine Adrian [legal official of L.G.B.J until 
we have the proof of his evidence. The wisdom of this was quickly 
apparent. Adrian, a heavy, dull but conscientious official, began, in 
monotonous tone, to read a verbose disquisition on tlie law from the 
very beginning of poor relief to the end. The room was cold, and we 
all, I think, failed to take any intelligent interest in what he said. I 
stayed for lunch and chatted pleasantly with Lord George and then 

327 



ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 

escaped and went for a walk and service at Westminster Abbey. Thory 
(T. G.) Gardiner came to tea and I impregnated him with our views 
of investigation. I stay away to-day, and see clearly that my most 
important work will be done outside the Commission room. I will give 
my best thought but scamp attendance. 

Third meeting of Commission. I did not attend, as Adrian’s evidence 
in chief consisted of his reading from copious notes, or long legal dis- 
quisitions, which, as it was all taken down in shorthand and served to 
us in printed form in two days’ time, and before his cross-examination 
began, it was sheer waste of time to sit there listening to it. On Monday 
(4th meeting) the cross-examination began, and on that afternoon and 
the following morning I tried to make him admit that we must see 
and study the general and special orders, circulars, etc., for ourselves, 
before we could undei-stand the body of law and regulation under 
which the guardians acted. In this endeavour I was stopped by the 
chairman and Sir Samuel Provis, and I had a little tiff across the 
table as to whether he, or we, should judge whether documents were ' 
important or not. But I got a specific promise from the chairman 
that all the documents that we needed should be at the disposal of the 
Commission. 

However, as the Commission seemed still in a rudderless condition, 
at the mercy of the little clique of officials, Sidney and I prepared a 
memorandum on methods of enquiry, which I have asked to be 
circulated to the whole Commission. That done I feel that I have 
striven to get the enquiry on the right lines, and can now rest a bit. 
To reform the procedure of royal commissions would be worth delay- 
ing the completion of our book. But, up to now, I find attendance at 
the Commission a most disagreeable business — it is extraordinarily un- 
pleasant when one has to force people’s hands and make them attend 
to one by sheer ugly persistency at the cost, of course, of getting back 
a certain insolence of attitude on the part of hostile men. — This is 
exaggeration! (a week after). 

Thought it wise to let the two secretaries see both our proof of 
The Parish and also our first draft of The History of the Poor Law, 
i68g-iSg5. The publication of the work before the Report of the 
Commission is one of the trump cards in our hand and, as our object 
is to make them throw up the game of obstruction to investigation, it 
is well to put the card on the table. 

January 2ith. — Hewins and his wife came to lunch here after many 
months’ interval owing to preoccupation on all sides. Both were very 
depressed: he was somewhat bitter against all the Unionist leaders, even 
including Joes she was merely “ down on her luck ” — dreary — poor 
little soul! The result of the election has evidently been a terrible dis- 
328 


TARIFF REFORM 


illusionment for Hewins: it never occurred to him that the reaction 
might be so complete as to keep the Tories out for six years. From his 
private point of view it is a catastrophe; he thought, I am convinced, 
that in a few years, if not immediately, he would be arranging tariffs, 
and tariff wars, and tariff treaties, at the Board of Trade — hurrying 
from continent to continent, in close and confidential intercourse with 
ministers and great financial personages — one long delightful intrigue 
with a World Empire as the result. From the public point of view, it 
appears to him also as a disaster. “ It depends on the next six years 
whether or not we lose Canada; six years hence it will be too late ”, 
he exclaimed in his mysterious way. His autumn visit to Canada has 
convinced him that the Canadians will range themselves under the 
American flag, unless we give them a substantial preference. “ A great 
people with great resources — ^just chucked away through sheer ignor- 
ance and petty selfishness.” 

Of course, he is contemptuous of Balfour and those who surround 
him. But he is also irritated against Joe — for reasons I do not under- 
stand j except when there has been a gigantic fiasco, all concerned 
condemn “ the others Poor Hewins, with his grand castles in the air 
that he has been, for the last three yearn, inhabiting — now lying in 
ruins about him! I suppose he will become a paid organiser of the 
protectionist cause — an occasional leader-writer in protectionist papers. 
Meanwhile, it is conceivable that he is right about Canada. Sidney 
regards it as a “ mare’s nest “ if Canada leaves us because she cannot 
get a tariff she will leave us anyhow ”, 

February 5th. — The memorandum I sent in on methods of enquiry 
led the chairman to ask all the other commissioners for memoranda. 
And some six or seven responded. Whereupon ail have been referred 
to a committee consisting of Lord George, Provis, Booth, Bentham, 
Smart, Loch, Phelps, Mrs. Bosanquet and myself, and we meet on 
Monday 12th to consider them. This morning I spent taking out all 
the questions which the L.G.B. witnesses had told us we ought to 
enquire into, with a view to trying to persuade the committee to start 
on a systematic survey of all the unions, with a view to more detailed 
investigation of some. Y esterday, Bentham — the ablest person (except 
perhaps Provis) on the Commission — came here, and we talked 
poor law from 5.30 to ii o’clock. Result, bad headache this after- 
noon ! 

Dear Charles Booth is as delightful as ever, but he is losing his 
intellectual grip and persistency of purpose — ^is not much use on the 
Commission. Happily, he is unaware of it, Alas! for the pathetic striv- 
ings of age — more pitiful to the onlooker than those of youth, because 
without hope of amendment. 



329 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 

Want to get the Commission, sooner or later, to undertake; 

(1) Survey of all English unions, with regard to diiference of con- 
stitution and methods of administration of union. 

(2) Analysis of the whence and whither of pauperism in some among 
them. 

(3) Clear vision of course of legislation. 

(4) Analysis of developments of policy of central authority. 

It would be natural to begin with numbers three or four: but owing 
to the fact that we shall be fully occupied until next autumn in com- 
pleting our book, I shall suggest beginning at the other end. We want, 
if possible, to superintend, or at any rate supplement, three and four. 

February qth. — About nine o’clock yesterday evening, in walked 
John Burns. He had an indefinable air of greater dignity — a new and 
perfectly fitting jacket suit, a quieter manner, and less boisterous 
vanity in his talk. The man is filling in with good stuff. He described 
the three committees of the Cabinet upon which he had that day sat — 
one on the Trade Disputes Bill, the other on the unemployed, and the 
third on the Workmen’s Compensation Extension Bill. He was naively 
delighted with his share in the proceedings, especially his insistence 
that workmen’s compensation should include provision for illness or 
death from unhealthy occupations. He had filled in his time with seeing 
all and sundry — philanthropists. Labour representatives, great employers 
and asking their advice. “ They are all so kind to me,” he said, in 
glowing appreciation — “ especially the great employers, just the men 
who might have objected to my appointment.” Oh! the wisdom of 
England’s governing class! 

He pulled out a set of cards, upon which he had written the measures 
which he had decided to bring forward in the first two years — mostly 
measures that the L.G.B. had long ago pigeon-holed — the abolition 
of overseers, further equalisation of rates in London, amendment of 
the Alkali Act, and finally (as a concession to the Labour Party), an 
amendment of the Unemployed Act of last session in the direction of 
greater contributions from the rates. “ I want to be efficient,” he said, 
with youthful fervour, “ if you and Sidney can give me a tip I am 
always ready to listen. I am ready to take tips from anyone so long as 
they mean business in my direction.” If good intentions, and a strong 
vigorous and audacious character, can make up for lack of adminis- 
trative experience and technical knowledge, John Burns may yet be 
a success as President of the Local Government Board. 

Altogether Sidney and I are in better spirits as to the course of 
political affairs than we have been for many years. We do not deceive 
ourselves by the notion that this wave of Liberalism is wholly pro- 

330 


WORKING COMMITTEES 


gressive in character — much of its bulk is made up of sheer con- 
servatism aroused by the revolutionary tariff policy of Chamberlain. 
But it looms as progressive in its direction and all the active factors are 
collectivist. Moreover, it is clear that Joe is going to try to outbid the 
Liberals by constructive social reform. It is an interesting little fact 
that a fortnight ago he wrote in his own hand to W. P. Reeves to beg 
him to send all the Acts, and literature about the Acts, relating to old- 
age pensions and compulsory arbitration [in New Zealand] — ^as if he 
desired to convince himself of their feasibility as an adjunct to his tariff 
policy. Whether or not this socialistic addition will make for the 
popularity of protection, it will come at any rate as pressure on the 
Liberals to do something for raising the standard of life of the very 
poor — it will bar the way to a policy of the status quo. 

February \2th . — I sent another memorandum to the chairman 
sketching out the work of three committees — on statistics, local 
administration and central policy respectively — a. scheme which in 
his gentlemanly way he pressed on the acceptance of the committee 
on procedure. The committee on statistics was agreed to, so was a 
committee on blue-books, etc., to which the documents of the L.G.B. 
might be added; and, in the course of the discussion, it became clear 
that a committee on local administration would, in the end, be required. 
But most of the members were against taking any steps towards a 
positive scheme until after the inspectors’ evidence. Charles Booth 
wants one committee only; Mrs. Bosanquet objects to any but 
temporary committees; no members want a systematic investigation 
but myself. I threw out the notion of a statistical officer and an assistant 
commissioner to undertake the investigation into local administration 
— but as yet, it is not responded to. Meanwhile, Sir Samuel Provis 
will not agree to anyone looking through the L.G.B. documents — 
insists that we must call for those we want to see and not have the run 
of the whole. In an Interview we had at the L.G.B. he lost his temper 
and asserted that he “ would not have a picking enquiry into L.G.B. 
policy ”. I kept my temper and we parted on friendly terms. Charles 
Booth blames me for having raised the hostility of the L.G.B. He may 
be right — the other policy would have been to wheedle my way into 
the place. On the other hand, if one begins by being disagreeable, one 
may come in the end to a better bargain. It is, however, clear that I 
shall not have the support of the Commission in my desire for scientific 
research into the past seventy years. 

There is one very pleasant feature about the Commission. We are 
all of us after public objects, however much we may disagree as to what 
these objects are and how to arrive at them. There is hardly any 
personal vanity, or personal ambition, and no personal interest at work 

331 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 



ill the Commission. A little jealousy of those who take the lead — but 
very little of that. And we are all getting fond of our chairman — who, 
like many a grand seigneur, can afford to be modest and unassuming. 

He and his wife dined with us yesterday, meeting Rowntree (author 
of Poverty), the Barnetts, the clerk of the Westminster Board of 
Guardians, Mrs. Sydney Buxton and Henry Hobhouse^ — a most 
pleasant and useful party. Rowntree, who stayed the night here, is to 
help me to get an analysis of lOOO applications — the whence and the 
whither of pauperism. I am beginning to enjoy the Commission work: 
but the grind of combining it with our own enquiry keeps one at a low 
level of strength and good spirits. Book III., Seignorial Franchise and 
Municipal Corporations, is in some ways the hardest of all. 

Meanwhile, Balfour has succumbed to Chamberlain, and the Con- 
servative Party has become definitely protectionist — for the time — so 
long as Chamberlain lives. In so far as it commits the most laisser-faire 
party to the policy of state control and increase of taxation, we rejoice 
in it. Sidney still thinks that import duties are a wasteful device, though 
agreeing to’ the expediency of deepening the channels of trade between 
Anglo-Saxon communities. Personally, I don’t believe much in the 
injuriousness of tariffs to a prosperous wealth-producing country like 
England. And, if a tariff were part and parcel of a deliberately conceived 
scheme of raising the standard of life by collective regulation and public 
expenditure, I should be willing to pay for this scheme in a slight rise 
in the price of commodities. And, other things being equal, I would 
rather pay more for commodities produced by our colonists under fair 
conditions of employment than fractionally less for commodities pro- 
duced under unknown conditions by an oppressed people. This, as a 
matter of sentiment, and as an argument for bettering conditions here. 
However, for the next six years we have to look to the Liberal Party 
for any reforms. It is well that Sidney is a “ free importer ”. As for my 
private predilection “ mum’s the word ”. 

February i()th. — Dined last night witli Tommy Lough (now 
promoted to the parliamentary secretaryship of the Education Depart- 
ment) and met three other minor members of the Ministry- — the 
Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Lord Advocate for Scotland, and Solicitor- 
General for Ireland, as well as two or three ministerial M.P.’s. The 
minor Ministers were all on their best behaviour, with that peculiar 
combination of new-born discretion and , modesty with obvious self- 
complacency at being within the mystic circle of the Government. 
Tommy Lough was great on the reforms he intended to introduce 
in the financial transactions of tlie Education Department — horror- 
struck at the notion of 80,000 separate cheques a year on behalf of 
separate institutions. “ We might as well have a separate cheque for 

33a 


JUNIOR MINISTERS 

each packet of tea sold by the Tower Company.” The mysteries of 
education are still above and beyond him. “As for the Government’s 
intention,” he whispered to me, “ about education or any other matter, 
I know less than I did as a private member. You see I may not gossip 
and no one gossips with me.” He added sadly, “ We under-secretaries 
are just set down to do some departmental job and, as we know nothing 
of the subject, we have got to stick to it, instead of amusing ourselves 
in the lobby, picking up news. But it is interesting”, he continued with 
glowing enthusiasm, “ to feel yourself right inside the machine. 
Morant is a fine fellow and we get on splendidly — ^but the office from 
a mere business point of view does want reforming.” 

A boisterous tea dealer, whose business career has been divided 
between advertising packets of tea and starting doubtful companies — 
whose public interests are wholly Irish or working-class, who has 
neither literary culture nor scientific knowledge — ^as one of the heads 
of our Education Department! A rum thing is English government. 

For all that I like Tommy Lough, he has energy, he is no respecter 
of persons, he wants, in a philistine way, to make society more prosper- 
ous and happier, and he never says what he does not think. He is a 
rough, ugly instrument, but so far as he cuts at all he cuts in the right 
direction. 

February %%nd . — Had a party of young Liberals dining here last 
night: Herbert Samuel and Reginald McKenna, Masterman and John 
Simon, Massingham and Sydney Olivier. Of these Simon, the young 
lawyer, is by far the most brilliant — making a big income as the rising 
junior at the Bar, He has a conventional mind but excellent working 
intellect, a charming person, agreeable voice and manner. But his 
spirit has been broken and his whole life made arid by the loss, some 
three years ago, of his young wife. He declares himself already “ bored ” 
by Parliament after three days of it. “ Rufus Isaacs has shown me 
a quiet corner to which I retire and work at my briels.” He is an 
individualist Liberal of the Morley type, without Morley’s idealism. 

I sat between the two new under-secretaries, both full of the work 
and dignity of office — neither of them exciting personalities, but 
McKenna a genuine reformer of the ordinary kind — ^and both as 
respectable and hard-working as Cabinet Ministers could desire in 
subordinates. Masterman exuberant in his half-cynical, half-sentimental 
talk; Sydney Olivier full of the possibility of going out to South Africa 
in an important post, all of them full of themselves and rather impatient 
of each other’s obsessions. 

This morning I took off — the first holiday for a fortnight or more. 
I walked along the Embankment to St. Paul’s for the lo o’clock service. 
The beauty of the music and the old-world charm of the words, the 


ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 
great space of the dome, are always the best recreation when I am 
weary with straining my poor little mind. I prayed for strength to order 
my effort rightly and keep my motives pure, to preserve the patience 
and persistency of purpose needed to carry through our intentions. 
Tliese next three years are going to try my strength of body, intellect 
and character: I sometimes wonder whether I shall keep going, or 
whether some day I may not find that I have stopped for repair. And 
yet it is little that I really accomplish with all my abstinence and cutting 
down of all but business intercourse. Sidney can do about four times as 
much as I, whether measured in time or in matter. 

Sidney thoroughly satisfied with the secondary education side of 
L.C.C. work: he gets through all his grants without opposition: he is 
building up a system of provided and non-provided schools side by side. 
He is happy in his work, as all antagonism to him personally has 
subsided. The little jealousies between the leading Progressives are now 
transferred from Spring Gardens to Westminster — and Sidney does 
not appear in this higher sphere. Spring Gardens has become a mere 
backwater in which the remaining big fish of the old gang can swim 
without fear of creating disturbance. Thirty-two of the Progressives, 
including all the leaders, now in the House of Commons! There is 
actually some talk of making Sidney vice-chairman of the education 
committee! Collins even pressed him to accept the great position: 
Sidney modestly put himself at the “ disposition of his party ” and 
acquiesced in the suggestion that he should work under Shepheard (who 
is to be promoted to the chairmanship) if the majority of the party 
actually desire it.' It is a great luxury to feel that he is beyond all 
question of dignity and personal position. If you are content to accept 
any position that is forced on you and never to compete, there is a good 
deal of excellent and happy work to be done in the world. 

March i$t. — Meanwhile, my Royal Commission grinds slowly on. 
The three committees that I pressed for on the procedure committee 
have been appointed and have set to work: statistics, documents (on 
central policy and on local administration). I am trying to guide the 
committee on documents into making an analysis of all the documents 
of the central authority — statutes, orders, reports, with a view of 
writing a memorandum on the attitude of the state towards each class 
of pauper. Lord George gives me unhesitating support: my difficulty is 
with Sir Samuel Provis. But I had the most friendly chat with him 
this afternoon, and he comes to dine to meet a carefully selected party 
on Wednesday. Charles Booth has the statistical committee well in 

‘ They did not wish it, so he remains chairman of tlie higher education com- 
mittee — a post he prefers. 


334 


students’ union 

hand: Bentham has elaborated and improved my question as to the 
working constitution of the boards of guardians: I hope that investiga- 
tions will be presently set on foot as to the life history of paupers in 
different unions. And I no longer find the association with my fellow- 
commissioners disagreeable. But it is a somewhat disastrous interruption 
of work on the book, which drags on painfully. 

We are trying to avoid dining out except when it seems absolutely 
desirable that we should be present (e.g. Liberal Ministers). We wish 
to be on friendly terms with the administrators and to make ourselves 
as useful as possible. Mr. Haldane came in this morning — first to 
discuss with Sidney and Mackinder the organisation of London Uni- 
versity — and, when Mackinder had left, to consult us about his scheme 
of army reform. So far as we could understand it, .this scheme provides 
for a small and highly expert professional army with the militia in 
attendance for foreign service (a reduction of 50,000 men). Then, in 
the background, as material for reinforcements, in time of war, a mass 
of half-trained material under a semi-civil authority — probably a county 
authority bearing some sort of likeness to the joint committee for police 
— with “ grants in aid ” to promote extension and efficiency. Of his 
secretaries young Acland is attending to the labour side (contracts, etc.), 
Lord Lucas to Buckingham Palace, Widdows to army education. 
Colonel Ellison to army organisation. We are to meet all of them 
at dinner on Tuesday; young Acland comes to lunch to-morrow to 
consult Sidney about army contracts and their conditions. 

A brilliant dinner for the Students’ Union [London School of 
Economics] — A. J. B. and Sir John French as guests. One of those 
academic discourses from the ex-Premier in which he delights, and in 
which he delights his hearers. In our talk together I gathered that he 
is set on continued leadership: would not hear the suggestion that he 
should take a holiday. “ It is exactly now that tliey are beaten and 
demoralised that they need me: I shall be with them as continuously 
as if I were Prime Minister.” Like all great personages there creeps 
out, now and again, a little horn of egotism — a sensitiveness, more 
than with the ruck of men, to any depreciation of his past work and 
present position. He pressed me to come, both of us, to stay at Whit- 
tingehame — perhaps, we may go. I should like to talk out some matters 
of government with him and some aspects of the philosophy of public 
conduct. Is he an ingrained individualist incapable of change? Tariff 
reform has, at any rate, shaken the laisser-faire side of his philosophy. 

At the meeting of Tuesday, 27th February, of the Royal Com- 
mission, Charles Booth attempted the use 0/ the method of the inter- 
view which seemed to me illegitimate and was hotly resented by the 
chairman. Sir S. Provis and others. He happened to be in the chair 

335 



ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE POOR LAW 

when Preston-Thomas (inspector for South Wales District) was to be 
cross-examined on his printed statement. This statement concerned 
the district as a whole (I had urged that the inspectors should be asked 
to supply separate particulars about each union, but, largely because 
Charles Booth backed down, I was defeated and the inspector was 
asked to describe his district as a whole). But Charles Booth insisted 
on taking him right through the whole of the unions — one by one — 
asking him questions for which the man was not prepared and could 
only give hearsay evidence. Five hours were thus spent without the 
other members having a chance of asking questions arising out of his 
printed statement. I had left after lunch, but I hear that there was a 
hot dispute as to the relevancy of the questions and the chairman seems 
determined to put a stop to it. That sort of wholesale interviewing is 
all very well if the man is prepared and is speaking of facts within his 
own knowledge. But it is' hardly worth the £iOO which each weekly 
meeting of the Commission costs the national exchequer. I am inclined 
to think that a statement of the cost of the different methods of 
investigation ought to be submitted to the commissioners by the chair- 
man — it is a case where efficiency would be actually promoted by some 
attention to economy. A Royal Commission drifts into stupid, lazy 
and costly ways through sheer inadvertence and lack of forethought as 
to means and ways. 

The documents committee, consisting of Smart (chairman), Russell 
Wakefield, MacDougall, Provis and myself, met for the first time. I 
had circulated suggestions proposing to limit ourselves, in the first 
instance, to discovering what policy had been laid down by the central 
authority' as to the relief of various kinds of paupers since 1834, and 
proposing that the work should be undertaken by an efficient clerk 
under Jeffrey (clerk to the committee), according to definite plans 
decided on by die committee. To show what I meant, I circulated an 
analysis of the 1834 report, the first three statutes and two general 
orders, made by Mrs. Spencer. Profes